This week, we're spotlighting a second year AmeriCorps fellow from the New York - New Jersey region. Read more about her passion for service, reflections of her experience, and her work preparing 8th graders for high school and beyond.
My decision to become an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow was an unexpected decision. I was always immersed in research whether it was assisting my professors in their own research or brainstorming ideas for a Fulbright or Watson study abroad experience. I imagined myself leaving Colby and pursuing research in Cultural Studies or exploring interests in Public and Community Health. Colby wasn’t an easy academic or social experience for me, but the difficulty was both inspirational and motivational. I was given the opportunity to provide service to my campus by mentoring my younger peers and programming learning experiences that would engage the campus community on issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and identity politics.
Becoming an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow was easy- I would get the chance to intervene in the lives of young adults at a critical point in their educational journey. I would become a role model, coach, and instructor, helping them navigate academic challenges, cultural misunderstandings, and questions of identity.
What has been one of the most transformative moments of your service?
One of the most transformative moments of my service thus far would actually be a series of moments where I’ve witnessed the excitement 8th grade students expressed towards the high school application process.
Recently, I took a group of 8th grade students on a weekend trip to the Brooklyn High School Fair. Students were intensely engaged during the fair- stopping at each and every table, talking to current students and guidance counselors about what they could expect at that school, and gathering every prospective student publication or school swag they could get their hands on! Since attending the fair, students have reminded me about countless open houses and asked questions about specific schools graduation rates and college attendance rates. They are serious about their high school research!
Over the summer, I began Specialized High School Admissions Test Prep (SHSAT) for rising 8th graders. We would continue to prepare for the test up until their exam last week during lunch time and choice club time. Students would get in a tizzy if I was late, absent, or didn’t bring enough test prep work for them. I am extremely proud of them for preparing for the test and taking the positive risk by taking the test - These were the moments I was waiting for since I first met my team last Fall!
How has service changed you and/or your perspective of the world?Service hasn’t necessarily changed my perspective of the world, but rather strengthened my belief in the capacity for everyone to give towards others. The act of giving and doing genuinely and wholeheartedly, especially in our work of educating and mentoring youth is like planting a flower. We are all planting flowers in our classrooms and these flowers will eventually flourish into gardens- learning communities on our campuses where students are more confident, self-aware, and determined. This world has many issues and injustices which work together to isolate us from each other. I serve because I also believe there is a world of possibility, rich with experiences and opportunities for us to connect and empower each other.