Alumna Spotlight: Mary Ward
Served: City Year Boston ’00
Current Occupation: Associate Director of Reunions and Class Programs, MIT
While studying at Haverford College, Mary Ward met three City Year alumni. As a student who relied upon the financial support of grants and scholarships in order to cover the cost of tuition, Ward was struck by City Year’s mission and her friends’ enthusiasm of their service experience. “I wanted to give back to a country that provided me with a tremendous opportunity to go to college,” Ward said. Upon completing her undergraduate degree, Ward decided to serve with City Year Boston.
After a successful year at Josiah Quincy Elementary School in Boston, Ward was ready to carry the skills and spirit of service into her profession. Continue reading to learn how Ward’s career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) embodies City Year values.
City Year Boston (CYB): Following your AmeriCorp year, you started working for MIT. You’ve worked for their Alumni Association for 13 years—what makes it such a wonderful place to work?
MW: MIT is a great employer and I have found many opportunities for growth at the Alumni Association. I also enjoy working with creative and thoughtful people. I believe MIT and MIT alumni have a great positive impact on the world and I know that the work the Alumni Association does contributes to this positive impact.
CYB: What is a “typical day” at your job look like?
MW: Alumni involvement is vital to the success of MIT and I work with volunteers on projects and initiatives that foster meaningful connections and reinforce a common MIT identity. Most of my work is focused on communicating with volunteers, strategizing about ways they can keep their fellow alumni engaged through online communications and events. Once I’ve set goals with a committee, I work with them on defining what needs to get done to achieve the goals and, of course, my job involves making sure I, and the volunteers, stay on target to meet [those] goals.
CYB: How do you feel City Year prepared you for your career?
MW: City Year is all about the “Beloved Community” and the importance of understanding that one person’s success is connected to the success of the whole community. This was reinforced every day at City Year and by the time I left the organization it was an essential foundation to my understanding of how the world should work. Translating the skills I learned at City Year around inclusion, empathy, and understanding has allowed me to be successful at MIT.
CYB: Can you offer any advice for AmeriCorps members who are interested in pursuing a similar career path?
MW: The skills you learn at City Year are very translatable to many of the jobs in a college or university setting. Draw on these common values and themes during your job interview process.
CYB: You’re also a member of the 25th Anniversary Alumni Campaign committee. What made you decide to join the committee?
MW: I believe that City Year’s plan to address the dropout crisis in this country will be successful and help countless children in this country and beyond. I grew up in circumstances similar to those faced by many of the children City Year corps members work with today and I want to do all that I can to support City Year in its endeavor to keep our most vulnerable students on a path to success.
CYB: Do you have any advice for other alumni who are looking for ways to reconnect with City Year?
The easiest thing to do is attend an event. The world is not like City Year and I have found that going to an event, reconnecting with alumni and being reminded of a founding story or a PITW I used to love reminds me of the place I want to live in. It helps me be intentional about promoting the values I want to see more of in the world. -