By Jalen Shelvin, AmeriCorps member proudly serving on the AT&T team at Broadmoor High School.

My year as an AmeriCorps member has been fulfilling in more ways than one. So fulfilling, that I convinced myself to come back next year as a Senior AmeriCorps member. Though this year came with many challenges, I was blessed with the privilege of working with two amazing starfish students, Amy* and Emily*.

    The day I walked into Mr. Bell’s 3rd Hour English Language Arts class, I was overwhelmed. The class was crowded with more than 30 students who were all very loud and still energetic from the summer’s joys. My mindset going into the classroom and school year, in general, was ALL WORK, NO PLAY. With that work, I planned on serving with a purpose of inspiring and leading these students into a path that would benefit them in the long run. Upon stumbling into that class, there were two young ladies who caught my attention with rather different personalities. Amy, was rather quiet at first but extremely popular amongst her peers while Emily was very outspoken and didn’t shy away from what was on her mind. My perception led me to believe that these two would be my most difficult students to work with.

    Amy became my inspiration throughout the year. By that, I mean she became my sole reason for wanting to come back. However, our first encounter wasn’t quite pleasant. She didn’t really say much to me during our first month and she was extremely resistant to my help, mainly because she was so used to the previous City Year AmeriCorps member that she had worked with. Eventually, our relationship grew into this partnership once she became my focus list student and it became a partnership that nearly brings me to tears when I picture it. She is someone that everyone enjoys but is extremely territorial over the company that she keeps around. That attitude eventually wore off on me to the point to where I became territorial over her, which turned me into a protector of not only her education but her personal life as well. Throughout the year, she has managed to maintain the second 3rd highest grade in all of Mr. Bell’s ELA classes and I was blessed enough to be a part of the process. Our defining moment was her co-hosting the amazing Black History program that we put on.

    Emily was very similar to me when we first began. She, like I was in high school, is very outspoken and never shied away from saying what was on her mind. Typically with two people who are similar, it causes problems. Those problems came early in the year where I found myself arguing with her on numerous occasions. I thought for sure that there was no way I would’ve been able to get through to her, not this year at least. The one incident that made us trust each other was when she was going through something at home and came to me for advice. The advice that I gave her wasn’t life altering but it was honest, it was also from a place of trust which I think she felt and was able to trust me from then. She eventually ended up being on my focus list as well and that was one of the best decisions I’ve made all year. We connected on so many things in this long school year, building a bond that I carry everywhere I go. Although she’s greatly dependent on my help at times, she’s shown so much growth in being able to do things on her own that I strongly believe she’ll flourish in all avenues next year.

    Throughout the year, there has been an ongoing battle between these two girls. The battle of "Who’s my favorite focus list student?" Now, I come here to put that argument to rest and to say that they both are number one, but for different reasons. Amy, is the fuel that gets me going each morning at the school and Emily is the fuel that keeps me pushing. The growth that I witnessed with these two young ladies is incredible. Ultimately, as the year approaches an end, I believe strongly that both of them will be great leaders in whatever they choose to do and I can’t wait to be the proud City Year AmeriCorps member cheering at their graduation, similar to how I cheer them on every day.

*Names have been changed to provide the student's privacy. 

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