VISTA, LAW to Public Policy: Advocate, Sehar Siddiqi Developes her own Path with an AmeriCorps Service Mindset

“Every single AmeriCorps Alum needs to follow a specific path, remain in the non-profit world or teach or some other “typical” post-service career. The effect of serving on a person will create sensitivities that are important in any field, that would benefit all types of workers from engineers to accountants to small business owners and the areas they serve.”

Sehar Siddiqi spotlight 1
Selfie taken of Sehar Siddiqi at the 2017 Womens March on Washington!

Where are you from?

Centerville, OH – it’s a suburb of Dayton, OH.

What AmeriCorps program did you serve with?

VISTA with National Community Reinvestment Coalition in DC, 8/2004-8/2005

How did you hear about AmeriCorps?

“My friend at college who was a year older served and suggested it to me. I wanted some time before law school and I wanted it to be meaningful, AmeriCorps was a great opportunity for that.

Can you describe your service term?

“I served in DC with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. At the time NCRC was under 50 employees (they have now grown and changed in outlook – in a good way!) and focused on consumer financial education, supporting the Community Reinvestment Act, Housing Counseling, and supporting NCRC members. I worked in the Membership division and focused on supporting member coalitions, helping small entities connect with similar groups across the nation and bringing them into contact with policy makers in DC and keeping them educated on the law and regulations affecting the groups they served.”

What was the most impactful lesson you learned by your service term and why?

“I learned how hard it can be to bring about change. We were a liberal entity focused on economic issues under a Republican government and during a time of economic prosperity for many Americans – but not all. Getting attention to those who needed better policy was tough and it didn’t always fall in the way my organization wanted it to.”

Would you recommend others to choose AmeriCorps, or your particular program, why or why not?

“Absolutely. I think serving the community is a great thing and the effect it has on young people going forward, really helps create thoughtful citizens. Every single AmeriCorps Alum needs to follow a specific path, remain in the non-profit world or teach or some other “typical” post-service career. The effect of serving on a person will create sensitivities that are important in any field, that would benefit all types of workers from engineers to accountants to small business owners and the areas they serve.”

Sehar Siddiqi
Here is a photo of Sehar in her work cubicle at the National Association of Realtors!

TODAY: What do you do today?

“I work in housing policy.”

How has AmeriCorps impacted your life today?

“It focused the nature of my career – I always wanted to “help people” in that nebulous way many young people feel, but working as a VISTA on specific issues related to the economic struggles communities and families face related to housing and banking needs showed me how important financial access is to succeed in this country. I chose to go to law school after my VISTA year but stayed interested in the financial workings of communities and the greater economy. My first year of work as a securities lawyer in NYC coincided with the start of the Great Recession, really pushing me further into realizing how much sound housing and financial policy affects our communities. When I left the law firm world, I returned to DC and focused on housing policy work – the same field I’ve now been in for 6 years.”

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  1. M. Wajid Siddiqi & Sehba Siddiqi March 22, 2017 — 10:24 am

    What a pleasure to read the whole article and all the tweets. Made me so proud. Indeed as some one in those comments said “Emerging Leader”, that is what we see. Keep up the good work, good luck, best wishes and may God bless you and your loved ones, Mohsin & Jafar, Ameen. Love,
    Mom & Dad

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