Last year, Karina Vich served with City Year Tulsa as a startup corps member at Kendall Whittier Elementary and has answered the call to serve for a second year. This year, Karina serves as a Team Leader at City Year Los Angeles. During her corps year, Karina shared this story with us explaining how her upbringing motivates her to put on her red jacket everyday and spread what she describes as the greatest form of love: education.


I didn’t have a rough upbringing. In fact, I had more love than I knew what to do with. I didn’t struggle in school. Actually, I held a pretty decent GPA throughout what I’d characterize as a typical American school experience. I didn’t find myself forced out of higher education; I had the privilege of going to one of the best public schools in the nation. But “I” wasn’t the common thread in this equation- my family was.

My family is from a small ranch hidden in the lush Mexican hillside of Jalisco. Here, time was spent learning to milk a cow, make dairy products, build with your hands, purge sap from the trees in the forest to sell in the town market… but not to read, or write, or anything academic for that matter. But they loved their life. And yet, they left it— to learn to read and write.

Fast-forward over twenty years.

My cousin and I have always had a love hate relationship. I’d venture to say it was more hate than love. As the eldest, she was bossy and I was… a spoiled only child. I didn’t share. However, with our family either in Mexico or Texas, we were the only family each other had. Still, one fiery tantrum into a sleep over, you’d wonder whether or not the whole “we’ve got to stick together” idea actually held any weight with us. But 8am the morning after was always the same: two little girls eating French toast over a whiteboard lap table, the eldest teaching pre-algebra to her ten year old little cousin.

I didn’t have a rough upbringing. In fact, I had more love than I knew what to do with. However, few are as fortunate as I. We have students across the country that have yet to hear a kind word, yet to eat a full meal, yet to wear new shoes that are exactly their size. But we can show them the greatest form of love: education. Education last longer than today, tomorrow, and years from now. Education is a path to food, shelter, clothing, and autonomy. Education is the most powerful love you can give. I wear my red jacket to honor the love my family showed me. I wear my red jacket to be a catalyst of love for others.


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