Corneisha Fowler: #IAmTheWestSide

Corneisha Fowler, 23, is a guest relations associate from West Garfield Park, known for her warm smile and ability to put anyone she meets at ease.

She came to Rush through the CARA program, a Rush employment partner that helps get community members back to work.

“When I found the Rush job on Indeed and applied, I practiced for two weeks straight,” Fowler says. “I did mock interviews with volunteers, and I prayed for someone who worked at Rush. And then when I did my mock interviews, I worked with someone who just happened to work at Rush.”

She added, “When I looked at the Rush mission statement, it was like it my prescription.”

‘It changed my life’

Fowler started her job on Feb. 4, 2019.

Her CARA program allowed her to really show and prove what West Siders can do and what opportunities exist for community members.

“People don’t feel like they have a chance or that they have other options,” Fowler says. “Programs like this can help get them gainfully employed. Oftentimes if you see no other opportunities, it leaves you feeling stuck. But if more community members knew about programs like CARA and others at Rush, it would change people’s lives. It changed my life.”

Fowler has ideas for other ways the lives of Garfield Park residents could be improved as well. She advocates for more funding for programs like after-school clubs and education in her neighborhood.

“So many schools got shut down a couple of years ago and a lot of the safe havens have been shut down because of lack of funding,” she says. “Instead of putting money into things like newer police cars — because they’ll probably be flying in a minute — whoever is in power, whoever is in power needs to fund the West Side so we can build back up like we used to be.”

‘More than your surroundings’

And if Fowler had limitless amounts of cash, she’d like to open up a program for kids who have experienced trauma firsthand. “We’re taught to hold that stuff in, and we really don’t have an outlet. It’s dangerous to keep all of that emotion bottled up inside; it can really affect your health,” she added.

Despite its challenges, Fowler, like many other Rush West Siders, knows the West Side to be “the best side.” Its pre-COVID-19 lively social scene is just one of many reasons. “You can have so much fun on the West Side,” said Fowler. “Barbecues, block club parties, it’s just so much positive energy and so many people who want to just enjoy life.”

The advice she’d like to offer to her fellow West Siders is sage for such a young age: “Give yourself a chance,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Life is more than your surroundings. Open your mind up to something different.”

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