Cynthia Ibarra could hardly wait for her new gig as a SolarCorps Outreach Fellow for GRID Central Coast, so when she was handed a name tag on her first day with the title “SolarCorps Program Fellow,” she was more than a little perplexed. But amid all the hustle and bustle of the Pre-Service Orientation for her cohort of 40 fellows, she decided to just go with it.
As weeks turned to months and her new role began to take shape, she found herself trailblazing a new hybrid position in her office, supporting the outreach team but also getting her hands dirty with other projects. Her role included streamlining processes to increase task efficiency across departments, developing educational materials for Solar Futures and Solar Spring Break, building GRID Central Coast’s relationship with the local city government, and navigating the local utility’s application processes for system interconnection.
"I'm privileged to have been able to get involved in such diverse areas of work,” Cynthia said. “I'm still surprised by the broad skill set I developed, but above all, I am just so grateful that this experience has given me the chance to realize my capacity as a change-maker."
Over the coming weeks, Cynthia and her fellow cohort of SolarCorps Fellows across the nation will be completing their terms of service and launching careers in clean energy, workforce development, nonprofits and other industries. Together, they’re responsible for serving 1,600 low-income homes with solar power and helping hundreds of economically disadvantaged individuals gain employment in the solar industry, all while also gaining some new skills of their own.
As for Cynthia, she fully lived up to her surprise title in the end, and will be moving into a permanent position as Program Coordinator for GRID Central Coast. She had this piece of advice for the incoming cohort of SolarCorps Fellows: “Give yourself time to learn and speak up for what you're interested in. The things you’ll excel in most are always the things you’re most passionate about.”
Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all of the SolarCorps fellows who completed their terms this year!
Special thank you to the supporters of our SolarCorps Fellowship Program: The SolarCorps Program is part of the AmeriCorps network of programs. SolarCorps is made possible with funding support from AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, and Bank of America. AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement. CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.