YCorps Spotlight: Anna Cron
We are so grateful for our wonderful staff at Youth Frontiers (YF), from our full-time and part-time employees to our YCorps. The Youth Frontiers YCorps (Youth Corps) is a five-month internship program that gives emerging leaders the opportunity to facilitate, along with our full-time staff, life-changing retreats for schools all over the upper Midwest. As our current YCorps’ time with Youth Frontiers ends after the winter holidays, we wanted to celebrate their skills and stories on our blog as a six-part spotlight Q&A series. Our next YCorps in the spotlight is Anna Cron.
How did you learn about Youth Frontiers’ YCorps?
In February 2015, I sat next to Joe Cavanaugh during a dinner honoring Paul Grangaard at Saint John’s University. As we talked about our educational backgrounds and our goals, I learned that Joe was the Founder & CEO of Youth Frontiers, which had organized three retreats (Kindness, Courage, and Respect) that I had attended during my schooling at Our Lady of Grace and Benilde – St. Margaret’s High School. With my post-graduate plans up in the air, Joe encouraged me to look into the YCorps internship. The rest is history.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
It is hard to pick just one, so I’ll talk about two! One of the best parts of the job is the variety of kids we get to work with on each retreat. It is powerful to see how students in different school atmospheres (urban vs. rural, private vs. public) face similar issues and obstacles on a daily basis, and all express the desire to make a change in their school communities and beyond. I’m not typically a morning person, but knowing that I get to be surrounded by awesome kids who teach me new things motivates me to get out of bed each day – that and coffee.
One of the best surprise perks YF offers is an incredible company culture that cultivates friendships outside the workplace. I anticipated that the work I would do at YF would be rewarding, but I never expected to meet so many passionate, inspiring and genuine people as I have already – and I haven’t even worked with everyone on retreat yet!
What surprised you most about the retreats?
At the end of each retreat, students have the opportunity to commit to an act of kindness, courage or respect to help make their school environment a better place. At each retreat, there tends to be at least one person who makes a commitment that resonates with me, and I find myself reflecting on that person’s powerful words hours, even days after the retreat. Even fourth graders have said things that reframe the way I view the world, the people around me and my own actions.
I also wasn’t prepared for the amount of support and encouragement I would receive from my counterparts on retreat. They’ve motivated me to take risks and challenge myself to try new things.
What is your favorite mission moment from the retreats?
I have a couple. During one retreat’s sharing time, a student stood up and apologized for making fun of someone who had left the school a few years back. I thought it was brave and honorable that he stood up, even without the person in the room, and took ownership of his past unkind actions.
At another retreat, the teachers informed our Lead Retreat Facilitator that a lot of the students often collectively picked on one particular individual in the class. At the end of the day, one student stood up and called on his classmates to stop repeatedly making life harder for that individual. It was so cool to see the school’s concern addressed so directly.
What are you learning at Youth Frontiers that you will take with you after your YCorps commitment ends?
Each retreat I work on reminds me to practice kindness, courage and respect in my own life. I never tire of hearing our Retreat Staff share their stories and ways to improve the environment in schools and the greater community. People remember how you treated them, whether considerately or poorly. My experience with YCorps strongly reinforced my desire to always be mindful of my actions.
Beyond the retreats, YF’s company culture showed me the importance of having fun with coworkers and getting to know them. These are essential first steps to fulfilling an organization’s mission and maximizing its positive impact on others.
Thank you, Anna, for all that you have contributed to the YF team and for helping keep our mission in motion. We look forward to seeing what you do next!