From Track Star to Financial Coach

RaShaunda Ridle is a first year VISTA at the YWCA serving as its Financial Wellness Coordinator. RaShaunda graduated from Jackson State University in Mississippi with a BA in Mass Communication and Multimedia Journalism, where she earned herself a scholarship after walking on to the Track & Field team.

However, between specializing as a mid-distance runner (800m to 1 mile) three seasons a year, she also found time to write for her school newspaper and join the Dance Ensemble here sophomore and junior years, respectively. And if you like Panera Bread, RaShaunda can give you all the details from her experience working there!

After graduating, RaShaunda returned to her home town of Michigan City, Indiana, to run out the pandemic and begin searching for her next professional opportunity. During that time, she became a licensed financial coach and sought to help jump-start her career by addressing her desire to serve in a position that utilizes her communication and financial literacy skills. She searched AmeriCorps VISTA positions in every corner of the US and subsequently accepted the offer as the Financial Wellness Coordinator at Tucson’s YWCA, choosing the position on because of the location (she had never been out West), job description, organization, and demographics the YWCA serves.

They Can Start You Back on Your Way

The main focus of Rashaunda’s role is to focus on trauma-informed financial care and helping create curricula that can be implemented by YWCA staff to assist their clients. To do this, she knows that providers need to understand the community they work with, which in her case includes: immigrants, those in need of financial assistance, and women who suffer/suffered from domestic violence and financial abuse. Her work is also rooted in the reality that there is no general prescription to help participants achieve their basic needs and financial stability, as one needs to understand each woman’s specific situation. However, to do so requires having a comfortable, sensitive conversation that does not trigger trauma to create a curriculum to tailor their individual needs. 

Currently, one of Rashaunda’s primary projects  is ensuring the viability and success of the YWCA becoming a Volunteer Income Tax Associate (VITA) intake center, providing free tax assistance to those in need. This includes ensuring compliance and training volunteers.

She Wants to Make Real Your Dreams

RaShaunda aims to use her forward momentum to continue improving people’s financial lives beyond her time at the YWCA. One such goal is to create an online financial wellness program that is youth/college student-focused, as both her personal and professional experience has revealed to her the lack of knowledge that youth generally have about their financial futures. In short, she wants to see cycles of financial insecurity be stopped. 

‘Cause She’s in a New Town

As many VISTAs experience, transitioning to a new city or state has its challenges. However, RaShaunda has been able to ease into Tucson due to what it has to offer. While a big city, it has a small city vibe, but includes all the opportunities to fulfill one’s material, experiential, and natural environmental needs. It also reminds her of her home on the South Shore Line!

What About You?

Wondering what to do after high school or college? For a gap year? Or are figuring out what to do after retirement? Serving as an AmeriCorps member through Arizona Serve like RaShaunda may be the right thing for you! 

Or do you want to grow your non-profit? Do you need help with accessing or developing non-profit resources? Hosting an Arizona Serve member like the YWCA may be the right start for you!