Dakota Riehl

Degree/Year: Religious Studies & Arts and Humanities, 2014
Employer name: Grand Rapids Center for Community Transportation 
Position/Title: Social Enterprice Developer, AmeriCorps VISTA Member 
City/State: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Dakota Riehl in front of Grand Rapids Center for Community Transporation

My current role at the center is to build capacity and assist in strategic planning for a new social enterprise cafe to open in the Grand Rapids community. The Rising Grinds Cafe will primarily focus on investing in local youth, specifically in the lives of youth experiencing homelessness and/or aging out of the Foster Care system, through the creation of meaningful, community-focused workforce development opportunities and business education. My role has included in-depth resource cultivation to make sure this cafe is not only youth focused but also sustainable, ethical and community-driven. 

My major truly instilled in me the capacity to think critically about
my project and innovatively search for solutions.


My Religious Studies truly prepared me for my current AmeriCorps position through its holistic approach to education. My time at Michigan State University was not linear or single-minded but a mosaic of different classes, experiences and opportunities, reminding me that my career and life should never be viewed through a single lens but through many. My major truly instilled in me the capacity to think critically about
my project and innovatively search for solutions. 

Spartans who are not exactly sure of their next step after graduation, whether that be full-time employment in the nonprofit sphere or continuing their education, should consider a year of service with AmeriCorps. This program is an excellent way to connect with a community while also building your experience in the nonprofit or government fields.