When I was nearing the end of my undergraduate career, I still felt aimless with my goals. I was a history major, of which everyone you speak to in casual conversation assumed you were going to work in a museum or be a teacher. I, however, wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
I went to career fair after career fair, and to recruiters, my skills and interest were too vague and not specialized enough. Discouraged, I went to one last booth, which belonged to the regional City Year recruiter.
Here I learned what a gap year was, and how it would be dedicated to service in high-need schools across the country. I was intrigued, as I had tutored students in past volunteer positions. I was told that young professionals such as myself would commit their time in a school year to bettering a group of students in attendance, behavior and class performance.
There was one problem, however. It was November, with the school year already in full swing. I was becoming more and more interested in City Year, but it appeared I missed the deadline.
This wasn’t exactly true, said the recruiter. She explained that there were mid-year positions open in several priority locations. She encouraged me to apply anyway, and while the Segal Award received upon completion is halved, the impact I would make in the school year’s most critical time would potentially be great.
“This is a time to commit service to a cause greater than self,” said the recruiter, and I applied right as I got home.
Moving 900 miles south seemed daunting for a 7-month position, but I learned quickly from being connected to the other mid-year applicants on Facebook and through e-mail, I was not alone. I met my three roommates, all mid-years, through the admissions director. And on our first day, we learned we were part of the largest mid-year group in City Year Jacksonville’s history.
We grew close through our two weeks of training, and we still keep in contact through GroupMe, even after school assignments were released. I currently serve with another mid-year, Imani Smith, who has been integral in helping me adjust into an already-established team and system.
It was interesting, to say the least, to be sent into the classroom as a new face, and my 6th grade students were initially wary but curious about my presence. Luckily, within a few weeks I was known as “Ms. R” instead of “hey new City Year”, and February and March were especially harrowing in personal aspects, but my students and my partner ACM Ariel Mobley got me through, and here I am to tell my tale. It was a challenging but rewarding few months, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.
Members of the CSX team serving at Northwestern Middle School cheering on students for FSA testing.