Annmarie Valentin served as an AmeriCorps Member with City Year Baton Rouge during the 2014-2015, 2015-2016 school years. She reflects on her service and shares about her experience:
Why did you choose to serve with City Year?
I think City Year chose me. I was finishing up my undergraduate degrees in Miami and was unsure of what my next step would be but knew that I wanted to move to Baton Rouge to be closer to my boyfriend. I was interested in possibly pursuing a Master's in Higher Education when I came across City Year at a Leadership Conference held at my college. I quickly realized that this was a great opportunity to mesh my Social Work degree and my interest in Higher Ed prior to going back for my Master's. I knew that I wanted to work alongside students and make an impact on their lives and City Year allowed me to do just that. After having such an impacting first year, I decided to return for a second year of service with CYBR. I wanted to continue our work with students and continue serving the Baton Rouge community. After all, Baton Rouge had quickly become my home and I knew that this was were I belonged.
What do you do now?
I am the Donor Relations Manager at City Year Baton Rouge where I oversee our day-to-day Development Operations, stakeholder and alumni engagement, and lead our external communications strategy.
How has your service with City Year informed your current career path?
City Year has made me realize that I want to work towards creating a better place for our students. Everyone deserves a great education regardless of their zip code. Because of City Year I am now interested in staying in the nonprofit world working alongside students and education.
What is your advice to people contemplating serving with City Year?
Go for it! City Year is hard and it is definitely a lot of work, but honestly there is no better feeling than having your students thank you at the end of the year: for helping them build confidence in themselves, for helping them raise their grades, for teaching them coping skills to improve their behavior. Give a year to our students. You won't regret it.
What is your favorite aspect of service work in general?
I love going out into our community and getting my hands dirty. There is just so much gratification to see all of your hard work (and lots of sweat!) come to life after painting a mural or building a community garden or even something as simple as cleaning up a neighborhood.
What is the best thing about living and working in Baton Rouge?
It's a large, small city. I'm originally from Miami, so moving to Baton Rouge was a huge adjustment for me. But I've learned that it is the best of both worlds - large town amenities with small town culture. Everyone seems to know each other, in way one way or another, so ultimately everyone feels like family.