Amber Villanueva  is a First Year Fellow serving at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Office of Workforce Development as the College and Career Readiness Specialist  

1. What inspired you to be a Promise Fellow and do a year of service?

Last summer I went out to coffee with a friend who introduced me to a former Fellow. As we were talking, I brought up my job search and career goals and she mentioned her time serving as a fellow for Science Club for Girls. I learned about the work she did empowering girls and all the other nonprofits’s serving youth that partner with MPF. She also told me about the professional development opportunities, the ability to attend graduate courses at Northeastern and MPF’s concentration on building community within the cohort. By the end of the conversation, I was exited to research the Fellowship, potentially complete my own year of service and do my best to make a difference in the lives of young people.

2. Share a story of how your service made an impact this year with your youth or host site.

While I was completing the Dana-Farber Student Training Program’s focus group, the students responded to a prompt asking what was one part of our program they found most valuable and most of the students agreed that their one-on-one coaching meetings with me were very helpful to them in the college application process. Then, one student went so far as to express that they wouldn’t be going to college had it not been for those one-on-one meetings, as there were so many aspects of the process that were completely unfamiliar to them. While it is upsetting that many students don’t have the opportunity to have a youth worker to guide them through this complicated process, I am very pleased to be able to spend this year serving youth and helping them gain access to college.

3. What has been your favorite memory in MPF this year (host site, monthly meeting, etc.)? 

I had a very enjoyable and meaningful experience during the MPF Winter Retreat. The talent show and games were an exciting way to get to know a different side of my fellow Fellows. The skill shares were especially fun! I enjoyed learning different ways to cook zucchini, how to make recycled paper and lead my own skill share on coloring for stress reduction-helping to release my creative side! Finally, impromptu dance parties, relaxing in the outdoor hot tub with other Fellows and having personal conversations with my peers helped me recharge and return to my host site feeling renewed and refreshed.
4. What is your dream job and how is MPF preparing you for your future career?
My goal is to be a clinical social worker working with youth. While serving as a Massachusetts Promise Fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, I have applied and been accepted to Boston College School of Social Work, placing me directly on the path towards that goal. Working one-on-one with youth is helping me build the skills I will need to work with youth as a counselor. Finally, as a result of MPF, I have developed professionally through monthly meeting trainings and been supported by MPF and DFCI in many opportunities to further develop professionally by attending the BEST Youth Worker Certificate Training, the Trauma and Resiliency Training Institute and the MPF Non-Profit Leadership Institute. These experiences and professional development during my year serving as a Mass Promise Fellow at Dana-Farber have placed me in an optimal position to achieve my goals.

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