Fellow Story: Sierra Bienz

“I am learning that it is important to me to make time to spend with people. In PULSE, the cohort lives in six separate houses throughout Pittsburgh, so I have to be more intentional about making that time.”

Sierra Bienz, originally from Laramie, Wyoming, received her degree in Linguistics with a minor in Cognitive Science from Swarthmore College. During her time in school, she worked as an intern in the Education Department at the Hudson River Museum, where she researched and curated materials for school curricula. While studying abroad in Chile, Sierra volunteered as a Translation Consultant, translating educational materials for the Tourism Bureau. She has also served as a camp counselor at Mercersberg Summer Swim Clinic, teaching competitive swimming to children. This experience cemented her love for education. In her free time, Sierra enjoys playing guitar, taiko drumming, and swimming. Sierra is a part of the East End cohort and serves at Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center, Inc. Sierra was interviewed by Peter Carter.

Peter: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Sierra: The first way I would say is living within a set budget and collaborating with my housemates to follow it. I’ve also been paying closer attention to where I am spending my time, in terms of engaging with the community and building relationships.

Peter: What have you enjoyed most about living in community? How have you and your housemates pushed/encouraged one another?

Sierra: I like having people in my house that I am at ease with. I’ve lived with housemates before, but the shared experiences that we’ve had through PULSE have allowed us to come together in a close way that puts me at ease. Even if we’re not always doing things together, I know that there are other people around for dinner, or to just hang out in silence. My housemates have been really supportive in talking through work stresses with me and beginning some deeper conversations about challenging subjects. Holding each other accountable to the housing contract and cleaning agreements has pushed me to examine my own ingrained habits.

Peter: What have you enjoyed most about your nonprofit partnership?

Sierra: The most rewarding part is to see events and programming that I have organized be enjoyed by the seniors at the center. Working with a core team of three people every day has allowed us to build a work flow that has worked really well for us. It’s been great to grow from being overwhelmed by all of the faces I had to learn, to greeting our regulars by name.

Peter: How do you like to spend your morning and evening commute?

Sierra: My commute starts with a 15 minute walk through the neighborhood next to mine. Recently, I liked looking at everyone’s Halloween decorations. Passing dogs, checking out the scene, and enjoying the vibe is what I really like.

Peter: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Sierra: In mid-September I went to an event that showcased local and international vendors called World Square. I not only had delicious empanadas and plantains there, but through my conversations with vendors at the event, I found out that Pittsburgh Taiko (a Japanese/ Japanese American-rooted drumming form) was performing that night. I enjoyed the performance, and afterward, connected with them about playing Taiko after college.

Peter: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Sierra: I am learning that it is important to me to make time to spend with people. I didn’t recognize that in college because it was easy to share time with friends studying or doing extracurricular activities. In PULSE, the cohort lives in six separate houses throughout Pittsburgh, so I have to be more intentional about making that time.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

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