By Felicia Truman, corps member serving at Gossler Park Elementary School
If you had told me while I was a college student that I would be working with elementary students after I graduated, I would have probably laughed at you. But in truth, working as a corps member has been one of the most transformative decisions of my life and now I feel prepared to begin the next chapter of my life after City Year. I feel inspired to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and am excited to begin working as a teacher with Urban Teacher Center this fall. Though beginning this program will be a huge step for me to take, with trials of its own, I know I am prepared because City Year has given me skills that will prepare me for any career and a passion for idealism that will last forever.
This year I have learned many essential skills. Some skills like professional development I can put on a resume. We learn how to plan and implement events, how to become professional employees, how to work under pressure and how to use our unique strengths and personality to be successful leaders. “The most important things City Year has given me were the confidence to get into the professional world and the knowledge that I am a leader,” says Joshua Merritt, a team leader serving at Gossler Park. City Year teaches us how to be our best selves by focusing on making better our weaknesses while working on our strengths.
Other skills I have gained this year are not as black and white but have contributed to my overall development as a human being. These skills, such as how to make a child smile, how to set up the perfect capture the flag game, how to silence misbehavior with a look, how to remind a child she is beautiful even when she insists she isn’t, and how to explain fluency with a combination of poetry, plays and Pharrell may have changed my life and the direction it was going. After I graduated college I was confused, with no real sense of direction and a degree that seemed little more than a piece of fancy paper. City Year helped me find my path, my voice and my purpose which eventually lead me to my passion for teaching urban students.
Though some corps members also choose the educational path, not all of us pursue this field after service. Many of us do take careers in business, education, social service, medicine or law, but we are prepared to work in any professional setting. “(At City Year) you gain multitasking skills and the ability to adapt to different environments,” explains Stephanie Riker, a corps member currently serving here at City Year New Hampshire and who will be going on to serve as a Project Leader in City Year New York in 2014-2015. In fact eighty two percent of corps members serving from 2012-2013 agree that their experience at City Year improved their candidacy for graduate school and jobs.
It is true that when you’re a City Year, you’re a City Year for life. In every career I have from this point forward I know I will use the skills and experience I have gained during my corps year. I also am grateful for the opportunities that I have been able to receive because of my affiliation with City Year. As a City Year corps member I didn’t just give a year of service but gained a lifetime of leadership.