My name is Nikki Weiss, and I serve as the Public Health Outreach VISTA at the Great Lakes Hub of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. While working toward my PhD in anthropology at Ohio State University, I knew that I wanted to use my education to pursue public service. My interests in Midwest cultures and mitigating health disparities led me to apply for an AmeriCorps VISTA position, where I hope to embody AmeriCorps’ motto by being the greater good.
At the Center for American Indian Health, I support community-based participatory research activities and public health programming in authentic collaboration with tribal communities. To do this, I assist my colleagues with every stage of the scientific process, from study design to implementation to analysis to results dissemination. One of the issues I’m most passionate about in my work is improving the accessibility of scientific results, both in terms of the language used and the availability of scientific products to the general public.
In addition to my duties at the Center for American Indian Health, I also collaborate with my fellow AmeriCorps VISTA members on a cohort project. This year, we are working to create affordable housing for future AmeriCorps VISTAs serving Duluth. We are in the process of renovating the Legacy House, a previously condemned building on 2114 West 3rd Street. This involves not only the physical work of cleaning and building but also work such as grant-writing and planning. The entire cohort is eager to be the greater good by helping provide affordable housing to future VISTAs during their service terms.
Ultimately, striving to be the greater good is what living like a VISTA is all about for me. I plan to live by this motto long after my service term ends as I pursue a career in public service with the federal government.