My name is Kelsey Kovach, and I serve because I am fiercely committed to the development of others. I am spending this year investing myself fully and unconditionally into the growth of our students because their contributions to this world are too valuable to go unnoticed.
This year I am striving for excellence by holding not only myself to the highest of standards, but my students as well. Being excellent means discomfort. It means conflict because the definition of excellence is arbitrary and my definition may not always align with yours. Conflict is the key that unlocks our minds to new perspectives and new ideas. Through conflict and perseverance despite difficulties, we are left with a product that shines bright instead of just merely glistens.
This year will be challenging. Our work is tremendous and exhausting, but it is worth it. Together we are creating the world we want to see, starting with those who matter most- our students. Each day has its own set of ups and downs, but through the triumphs and the tribulations remembering why you started is key. Bringing yourself back to understanding why this work really matters is of the utmost importance.
My most recent experience with one of these what I like to call "glimpses of impact" was a couple weeks ago as I drove over to Miami Northwestern Senior Highschool on a Friday evening after a very long work week. We were told by our program manager that our sister school (but maybe more accurately termed rival school) was in need of assistance to help prep for a beautification project that would be occurring the following Tuesday.
My previous experiences with service projects through City Year left me feeling whole-hearted and reflective, satisfied that my 8 hours of physical service that day had made a tangible, visible imprint somewhere in the world. I can remember feeling excited as I drove to Northwestern because I had only ever been on one side of the service projects- the side that usually involved getting sweaty, dirty, or some sort of paint splatter on an article of clothing. I had yet to experience what it meant to prep a space for the service day.
Fast forward to 10:30 PM, that same Friday night and I am finally wiping off the graphite caked on my hand caused by stenciling three murals onto the walls of Northwestern. Mind you, I had been awake since 5:30 AM and went from a 10 hour day at school straight to Northwestern to help with the prep. It was pretty safe to say I was exhausted, physically. However, mentally I was as charged and energized as if I had just completed a 400 m race. When a 17-hour work day would put most people on the ground, I was in fact enveloped in the satisfaction and joy that is working with an amazing team of dedicated individuals; united under a common cause to do our best to make a difference in the lives of others. The five hours I spent that day getting to know the members of the civic engagement team, stenciling murals, prepping walls with paint primer, and spending some quality time with other members of City Year Miami were all things that strengthened the connection between myself and my community. It opened my eyes to understand that physical service, although not in the front line of the work we do, is extremely important because its influence on students and the community is unmistakable. An environment can make all the difference between a student that dreads coming to school and one who looks forward to it. If we want to see our students grow into beautiful people, they deserve a space that is beautiful as well.
You would think that after that grueling, long day I would have gone home and headed straight to bed, sleeping into the late afternoon the next day. Truth is, I did go home and go straight to bed. But instead of sleeping in, I woke back up at 8 AM to head back to Northwestern. Why you may ask? Because although we completed an immense amount of prep the night before, we weren't done. And just as if I was working with a student on a math assignment, I don't quit until we are completely finished. We don't quit until the product shines bright with excellence, not merely glistens.
Completed mural at Miami Northwestern