Carolina Martinez is an AmeriCorps member, proudly serving at Jordan High School in her native Watts. She attended Smith College where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Carolina will be returning to serve a second year with City Year this fall.
I felt a lot of different emotions when I first started serving at Jordan High School as a City Year member. A lot of those were feelings of happiness because I was going to serve in the same high school from which I had graduated four years earlier.
However, at the same time, it feels that I am serving in a completely different school from the school I had attended because right after I graduated from Jordan, the school got split into two different schools. Many of the administrators and teachers I knew had left for other schools. Most of the buildings were demolished and new buildings were built; the Jordan that I had left behind was not the same.
The physical school may have changed, but the culture has been preserved. I feel a strong connection with the school, even now, because I am working with students from my own community. Additionally, a few of my teachers and administrators currently work at Jordan High, so it is really continuing those deep-rooted relationships.
I also enjoy the opportunity for them to see everything that I have accomplished, regardless of the reputation that Jordan High has had in the past. I have received a lot of support from them and they know what it takes to be a City Year member. They are proud of me for that—they have a person from the community working with the kind of students they used to be.
I have witnessed how City Year makes a tremendous positive impact not only in the academics of the students of Watts, but also in their lives. I wish that this organization had been available to me and a lot of my high school classmates when I was a ninth grader. Because of my City Year experience this year—the work we have does and what we stands for—I applied to come back next year as a team leader to continue serving students and my community.