Panhandle Disaster Relief Fund

Donate now to support the families and communities affected by the Panhandle and South Plains wildfires in February 2024. The Panhandle Disaster Relief Fund is administered locally by Amarillo Area Foundation.

Meet Nicholle Gotham, Center for Nonprofits & Philanthropy | VISTA Spotlight

Nicholle Gotham

In our VISTA Spotlight, our OneStar AmeriCorps VISTA members share in their own words about the transformative experience of serving with nonprofits and agencies in Texas working to eliminate poverty.

During college, I spent my senior year interning at my local National Public Radio station and loved every minute of telling the stories the lives of my neighbors throughout Northern New York. It was during my spring semester that the COVID-19 pandemic began and abruptly ended my college career. As someone who had always planned on attending law school, all my plans went out the door as I began to wonder what my post-grad life would look like.

I have always had a passion for working on behalf of my community, so this influenced me to eventually decide to take a gap year as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I knew that I wanted to spend my time in a location that was totally different from Northern New York along the Canadian border where I had grown up and attended St. Lawrence University, so I began looking at opportunities around the nation. I eventually found an opening with the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy (CNP) with the The Bush School of Government and Public Service located at Texas A&M University and loved the idea of working to bring together nonprofits throughout the community.

During my time with CNP, I have worked with community members and alumni of the university to share amazing, heartfelt stories about how they are making an impact in their local communities and helping change the lives of those around them for the better. Getting to share these stories allowed me to go back to my roots of storytelling that I fell in love with during college and highlight the inspiring work that is being done in the world all around us. I’ve really taken a lot of time to reflect on the work that I’m doing on behalf of the community in Bryan/College Station through the process of highlighting so many diverse and interesting voices, and I’m so excited to look back and tell stories of my own experience with the same passion and integrity that the folks whose stories we’re working on sharing with the Texas A&M community and beyond.

As the end of my service nears in August, I’m still planning on attending law school. However, my experience as a VISTA has solidified my interest in working in the public sector, and I hope to continue working to help folks in my career every day. I’ve been influenced by all of those in the Brazos Valley community working at local nonprofits to make the lives of people in the community better and would love to someday operate a legal organization to help folks who are survivors of domestic and sexual assault to receive the legal guidance and assistance that they may need but are unable to attain. There is so much that we can do for our community—on both big and small levels—that can make even the slightest difference in the quality of life for someone, thus improving their lives. It really is amazing seeing this work being done, and I’m extremely inspired to continue my service that’s aiding this community. This work has planted seeds of hope within me concerning the service work that I plan to do throughout my life.