Fellow of The Week: Cassandra Tavares

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Cassandra is a first year Fellow serving at Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement as the Youth Scholars Fellow. 

What has been the highlight of your service year so far?

I have really enjoyed working with my group of youth and having the opportunity to assist them with their college search process. As a teenager, I remember feeling overwhelmed while researching and seeking out different colleges, so I am grateful for the chance to be a source of support to students who are currently going through that journey. I have had the opportunity to expose the students to different colleges they have not heard of and/or may not have considered and it has been a great experience.

What do you love most about your host site?

I love my colleagues; I have never felt this welcomed, supported, and appreciated in my past positions like I do at MGH. I really feel like I can go to any person on my team and ask a question or just have a conversation about something I am concerned about, which really helps to relieve stress and anxiety. I also love sharing laughs with the team, as we do a lot of that on a daily basis! I truly look forward to coming to work because of the wonderful and dedicated colleagues I have.

How has the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship informed your future career path?

After MPF, I am interested in pursuing a career within the education research and policy fields, and I hope to address issues of equity and access to high-quality education. This opportunity to work with youth in an educational setting and learn about best practices for providing educational services and support to youth, as well as building meaningful and beneficial relationships with youth, has put me in a position to be a better informed researcher and advocate for young people.

What is one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in this service year, and how did you overcome it?

At the start of my service year, I struggled with ensuring that I was taking care of myself while getting involved with my position. Before MPF, I never really heard of the term “self-care” and just continued to work vigorously even throughout times of stress or tension without fully realizing that doing so was very unhealthy and not the best way to treat myself. I still had elements of that behavior when I first started my year of service, as I would often take in a lot of information and try to do everything myself without really having an outlet to release the buildup. To overcome this challenge, I had conversations with my supervisor and colleagues and really worked on being more open about the times when I started to feel overwhelmed. I really started to look to my colleagues and networks of support in order to obtain assistance when necessary. There have been many opportunities to express the need for help and I am now more comfortable with seeking help.

 What is your favorite way to start the day?

I love to listen to music in the morning while I am getting ready for the day. When I wake up, I am usually very tired and move around pretty slowly, but I find that listening to music puts a smile on my face, gets me energized, and also helps me move a little quicker so I can actually make it out of my apartment at a decent time!

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