Aaron Minnick graduated from the honors college at James Madison University with a degree in Philosophy. Aaron shares his involvement with City Year, from his biggest accomplishments to how City Year prepared him for his future. Read on to learn more.
TELL US ABOUT CAMPUS ACTIVITIES YOU'RE INVOLVED IN!
“My biggest involvement was working for a group known as Mad4U through Student Activities & Involvement for 2.5 years. Big shout out to my mentor and supervisor Shari Scofield. We created and facilitated programming designed to energize student union spaces. Open mic nights and meditation groups and craft nights—things of that nature.”
HOW’D YOU HEAR ABOUT CITY YEAR?
“A good friend of mine told me that City Year had a booth at our career fair. I didn’t actually go to the career fair but the name stuck. As I neared graduation, I was researching options to combine my inclinations toward service work with my desire to live in New Orleans and City Year surfaced again as the perfect opportunity to wed the two. And here I am.”
WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT SERVING IN NEW ORLEANS?
“It’s no secret that New Orleans is one of the most laid-back cities in the country—it may be the only city in America where you’re as defined as much by how you spend your free time as what you get paid to do. As taxing as working in public education can be, it’s nice to know that the entire ethos of the city is built upon enjoying life and letting the good times roll should you ever want to kick back or blow off some steam.”
WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?
“Ah, now you see, this is the wrong question. People might get into education for the dreamy, sky-high visions, but anyone who’s had their boots on the ground for more than a few months can tell you anything resembling a “big accomplishment” takes so many years to play out that you’ll probably never even hear about it. And even if you do hear about a success, there’s been so many hands in the pot that you could scarcely lay a claim to it anyway, aside from your role being maybe one link in a long and unbroken chain (which is certainly nothing to scoff at).
It’s the little victories, every day, that make up the life of an educator: a student excitedly telling you about a favorite passage from a book you recommended to them; a habitually absent student promising you that they’ll come to school next week just for you (and then actually doing it); the soft smile from the student you’ve had trouble with, which lets you know that at least for today, we can start over from scratch. These are the things that get you through the day and keep you coming back. The biggest accomplishment for me is seeing our students change for the better.”
HOW HAS CITY YEAR PREPARED YOU FOR THE ROAD AHEAD?
“In a word, perspective. City Year gave me the perspective of working in the belly of one of America’s most hallowed institutions, perspective on what it feels like to be different, perspective on just how many barriers stand between children from the lowest socio-economic strata and a prosperous future. I went into this work with the best intentions of generosity and altruism, but in truth I’ve benefited just as much (if not more) from the experience than my students have. I may not have changed the world, but the experience has changed me, and I know myself in a way that I didn’t before I moved to New Orleans. Fortunately, for as trying an experience as the year has been at times, it doesn’t weigh heavy on my soul, and I know I’ll have no difficulty bringing along the humility, sensitivity and convictions I’ve learned from my year of service on the road ahead.”