A'Narris's Why

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Release Date: 
Thursday, March 12, 2020

A’Narris, our VISTA member in Detroit, shares how her passion for public health and her city combined with her three years as a Correction’s Officer to bring her to VISTA.

I am from Detroit, Michigan where most of the residents in the city are African-American. I am an African American woman and passionate about serving my city. When I first went to college, I started studying nursing to help others, but it was not my strength. I changed course to Social Science focusing on Anthropology and Health. In college, I completed an internship in Washington, D.C. where I discovered an interest in Public Health and Policy, marrying my earlier dream of nursing to my love for social sciences.

I found AmeriCorps shortly after graduating undergrad, but the timing was off, and I was unable to serve. Shortly after, I followed my passion for health; I worked with cancer patients, in health insurance, and in community health programs. In 2013, I decided to go back to graduate school to get a master’s in Community Health Education and loved it. After finishing and not being able to find a public health job, my mentor suggested that I apply to the Department of Corrections. I was a Correction’s Officer for three years where I saw the intersection of public health and the criminal justice system every day.

After three long years, I needed to go back to public health but wanted to stay in the criminal justice space. I revisited AmeriCorps and found the NLADA position in my hometown. I knew it was perfect for me, combining my unique life experiences and educational background. I love serving to expand holistic defense. I want to continue to serve those who are left out and forgotten, who others do not think about or care about. This is my passion and I hope to continue combing public health and prison reform in my career.