Nikita Beenunula Has a Plan

Posted by Monica Hoel

(You can listen to an interview with Nikita here.)

 

As far back as high school Nikita Beenunula had planned to get a master’s degree in public relations and find a career where she could “have a larger impact worldwide.”  But with her undergrad degree in hand, she didn’t initially find an exact fit for her professional vision.  “I was hard on myself because I wasn’t sticking to my plan. After graduation, I worked for an optometrist for a year as a technician while I also saved money for school.”

Then she found AmeriCorps.

She spent a year serving as the marketing and development coordinator for CAPUP (Capital Area Partnership Uplifting People). This is a non-profit community action agency that is more than 50 years old, but as Nikita pointed out, “CAPUP provides terrific services, but people don’t really know about the organization or the work we do.” So part of her job has been to raise the profile of CAPUP within the community and also to make sure they are well-known to the very people who could be served by their good work. CAPUP serves communities in Richmond, Petersburg, and the surrounding communities.

For Nikita, helping people find the support they need to succeed is more than a career path – it is personal.

Nikita is an immigrant who grew up in family full of hard-working men and women who set an outstanding example of caring for others – “even when they had their own problems. These individuals are why I am who I am and why I want to do what I want to do.”

She recalls watching TV as a small child and reacting to commercials for charities that promised food and shelter to children. Her mother warned her to be cautious because some organizations didn’t get the money in the hands of the people who most needed it. “Then I saw the direct impact Oprah had with her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa – and something clicked in me. I knew I had to have some type of direct connection there to make sure these people get the help they need. Being an immigrant myself I was also aware that these individuals had the intellect and skills to succeed, they just need the resources to do so.”

She hopes to someday form a nonprofit to create jobs, improve infrastructure and build hospitals and schools. “I want to provide these resources for under-served communities domestically and internationally.” And she is grateful for the experience AmeriCorps has given her to help her see that dream come true. “I am very thankful and honored by the people that I have met through the AmeriCorps VISTA program who have shared their wisdom with me thus far. The program has taught me that I can use my education skills and give back in the way I have dreamed of. It also taught me that there are many roles out there that incorporate communications duties in the role that don’t have ‘communications’ in the job title. So, it is important that I do not limit myself with that thinking because I could miss out on a lot of impactful opportunities.”

Nikita has also learned lessons of flexibility as she sees that “life is unpredictable…but it can still bring you exactly what you need.”

Now Nikita is working on a graduate degree in Public Relations & Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. “I am excited about what the future holds and I’m ready to make a difference.”

  • Nikita Beenunula, E&H Class of 2017.
    Nikita Beenunula, E&H Class of 2017.

“I want to provide these resources for under-served communities domestically and internationally.”
– Nikita Beenunula
E&H Class of 2017

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