Interview with Andrea McDermott, BRAVE AmeriCorp VISTA Member 2016-2017

Hello BRAVE friends! Guess?! You right, it is me again, Meaghan! And, in this post, I am SO happy to be presenting y’all with another interview capturing the beautiful soul of a truly compassionate and BRAVE human. Today’s post is meant to celebrate and recognize our very own Andrea McDermott and her incredibly successful and impactful year of service as our Americorp VISTA member. Andrea is one of my MOST FAVORITE HUMANS!! The entire BRAVE family has benefitted from her from contributions and her relentless kindness and compassion. Which is why we are so ELATED that she has agreed to stay on our team, as a very recently elected, Board Director!! Team BRAVE is better with her on it!!

Again, I have to use this space and opportunity to shine some serious light on all that is truly awesome about Andrea McDermott. All of her contributions embodied hard work, creativity, and true bravery! She is such a natural at building meaningful relationships. And, the relationships she creates are powerful and have the potential to bring more love, positivity and growth to our world. In just one year, Andrea developed amazing and powerful relationships with all of those lucky enough to spend time with her, including myself. Andrea sincerely cares about ALL those who are a part of her life. At every meeting and at every event -- with every email and with every interaction, she gives 110% in order to best support humans. That is always what is most important to her in the work we do at BRAVE -- supporting the humans who are part of it. There are not many people that live their lives like this. Andrea has a unique and beautiful energy that allow her to do this so well, with such grace and with great consistency. Andrea supports humans in their journey to discovering their own bravery and their own self-empowerment. She is a true BRAVE mentor and a fierce, life-long friend.

Sending so much peace and love and good vibes her way, today and always. Please congratulate her on her new job with Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Hartford, Connecticut! So proud of her! Below, I have recorded some of the reflections, memories and lessons that she shared with me this summer. My questions and her responses are below!

Read on and live BRAVE, friends! Who is ready to change the world?!

Peace & love,



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What was your favorite BRAVE project that you worked on this past year? Please explain.

My favorite project would have to be working on the conference. I remember when I first started last summer, we talked about the conference as a project that is something we were trying to do, but I wasn't sure what it would be like. After spending hours working with various interns, Board Members, and Meaghan, it was so amazing to see this idea brought to life in the realest and biggest way possible. We had such a successful first conference - we had over 90 participants, multiple student and professional presenters, and an overall fun day, I can't wait to see what next year's conference is like! Seeing everything from the conference itself to the tiny details like making sure that appropriate signage was hung up around the conference venue showed me how any idea - no matter how big or small - can be brought to life if you have the determination and support to do it.

What did you learn during your experience with BRAVE?

I learned so many wonderful things during my experience with BRAVE. First, and most importantly, I learned that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I learned how to redefine my idea of what success looks like. I learned that bravery doesn't exist solely in bold, big actions, but also in our everyday lives. For example, I don't have to be rescuing a kitten from a tree to be considered a brave person. I can be brave by being myself as often as I can, by speaking up for the things I believe in, and even by being silly! I learned how to communicate better. I learned that self-love is imperfect, difficult, and completely worthwhile. I learned that being vulnerable and uncomfortable can be good for you, and often times, it's one of the best ways to learn and grow. I learned that there is beauty in the many different ways people get things done. I learned that there are people who will support you and have your back always. I learned that I am never going to have to face anything alone, because I will always have my BRAVE family. I am so excited to take all of these things I have learned with me in the future! They are life lessons I will carry with me forever.


What is your ultimate BRAVE moment of glory (MOG)?

My ultimate BRAVE MOG was when I was given the Mentor of the Year Award at the BRAVE Awards Ceremony. I was not expecting to receive an award that night, and to hear that my efforts to support everyone in BRAVE were appreciated and recognized was so special and incredibly humbling. It helped solidify the idea that being yourself is a BRAVE endeavor!

Do you think your ideas of bravery (or leadership or empowerment) has changed or grown since you first started with BRAVE last summer? Please explain.

My idea of empowerment has definitely changed since I first started with BRAVE. I always thought that you needed other people to make you feel empowered and good about yourself, but that simply isn't the case. To me, self-empowerment means being able to find the power within yourself (that is there, has been there, and will always be there) to be your best self. Sometimes, it takes another person showing you how to do it in order for you to self-empower. It is a never-ending, imperfect, and challenging process, but it also teaches you how to love yourself better.

Jamiah Bennett