Public Allies Class 1 Story Highlight: 

Picture this: The year is 2009 and you are a new college graduate. Our economy looks worrisome, but history was just made with the election of Barack Obama as our President. You have so much you want to do with your professional life, but don’t necessarily know the direction you want to go in. This is not the beginning of a best-selling young adult novel, this is actually the real life of Public Allies alum, Ruchi.

Ruchi was one of the people selected to represent Public Allies in the first ever class in Indianapolis. She had just graduated from Indiana University with a degree in speech pathology and was looking for new opportunities. Looking back, Ruchi says “I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Getting a masters in speech pathology that's a big commitment,” she goes on to say, “I really liked the mission of Public Allies, I thought it was really great and I liked that it was only a yearlong commitment.” Ruchi was and still is the type of person to seek out new experiences and a term of service seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Ten years ago, the team at the Domestic Violence Network made the decision to host their first Public Ally. This decision was made because their team knew they could benefit from having an ally as much as this ally would benefit from joining their team. “Public Allies has a focus on community and continuous learning, both of which are a large part of our culture here at DVN. Our staff is always looking for opportunities to learn,” says Ashley Powell, Training Services Coordinator at DVN and former Public Ally. Ruchi learned first-hand how supportive the DVN team was, as she was the ally that was selected to serve with the organization! “I liked the mission of DVN. There was a lot I didn't know about domestic violence so there was definitely a lot to learn, but I like the idea of working with people to help them be more self-sufficient, which was a big part of that job there at the time.”

The organization did a lot for Ruchi during her term. She was able to learn the ropes of a non-profit organization, lead a project and budget accordingly and also understand the responsibilities of a full-time job and being a good coworker. However, the most important skill Ruchi gained from her time at DVN, wasn’t even a skill; it was her voice! Ruchi recalls, ““I think the hardest part was I had a lot of anxiety of speaking in front of people.” To help her grow as a professional, her team at DVN gave her the responsibility of facilitating a few meetings.  “I’ve had to figure out how to do this because I didn't want to keep hiding in a corner.” So, her team helped her and empowered her to overcome this fear. “This allowed me to explore what it was I was afraid of and how to overcome that” Ashley Powell remembered growing her public speaking skills, but also strengthening the skills she had already established in the workplace. “I feel that DVN as a team is so strong because we are able to create an environment that values these strengths, giving us a greater capacity to learn from each other.

In 2018, DVN welcomes their newest ally from the tenth class of Public Allies in Indianapolis.  The influence of an ally has strengthened the programs at DVN and also increased the capacity of their work. “This year, we are able to reach college students, a group that is both at a high risk for intimate partner violence, and also a group that we have had difficulty reaching before.” Ashley says, looking forward to the new opportunities that this year's ally can bring to their team. Ten years later, Ruchi has no fears speaking in front of other people and still works every day to help other people become more self-sufficient. When asked to summarize her time as an ally, Ruchi said, “It was a really rewarding way to spend a year. I learned a lot and it was a great experience.”