2015-05-21

Adrienne Antonio

Regional Recruitment Manager, City Year

City Year New York Alum

It was my last quarter of undergrad at UC Santa Barbara and, like most students during this time of the year, I was freaking out about graduation and anxious that I didn’t have anything lined up after.  *Ding* an email from the career center titled, “Post BA Internship Programs,” arrived in my inbox.  It couldn’t have been better timing!  

Service and education has always been a huge part of my life, which is why City Year was exactly what I was looking to do before I considered applying to graduate programs, like Social Work or School Counseling, or going straight into the workforce.

Who knew that 11 months of service was going to turn into 5 years of life changing experiences? Definitely not me.  

I proudly served as a City Year AmeriCorps member on the PS 83 Bain and Company team in East Harlem, New York.  Transitioning from a small city in California to metropolitan New York City was tough. The biggest challenge I faced was working on a diverse team. We learned how to work together, reminding ourselves that we needed to be there for our students.          

At City Year New York’s graduation, I remember feeling overwhelmed with emotions as I looked out at the sea of 250 other red jackets, including my team that I started and proudly ended the year with, celebrating a challenging and rewarding year of service.  

I reflected on the past 10 months:  creating an afterschool program that kept 3rd and 4th grade students engaged, taking on a leadership role to plan an Enrichment Week and building community and awareness in the midst of gang violence.  

My biggest reward was the direct impact I had on my students, especially Jackson, who gave me motivation to wake up every day ready to serve.  Jackson was very shy and embarrassed to participate in class, causing his grades to suffer.  He loved Pokémon, so we would play against each other during breaks from working on English and behavior interventions.   After a few weeks of beating me and building my trust, Jackson slowly found his confidence in himself to participate in class and affirm his place as the class’s “Mathematician”.  I knew my purpose was to help more students like Jackson find their voice.   

After my first year, I continued to proudly serve with City Year as a Senior Corps member on the City Year Sacramento Startup team and as the Recruitment Project Leader on the City Year Jacksonville Startup team. City Year start up teams pilot City Year’s Whole School Whole Child model and engage with community members for a strong launch. I learned what it takes to be entrepreneurial when launching a start-up:  the ability to create a strong foundation for the organization to build on, flexibility and allowing yourself to be led through the darkness.

Over the last five years, City Year has provided me with numerous personal and professional development opportunities, including trainings that focused on leadership, project planning, building relationships, networking events that built my confidence in public speaking and connecting with professionals in various fields such as non-profit, education and service. I have been able to take my developed and practiced skills from my years of service into my job today as a Regional Recruitment Manager with City Year. I wake up motivated, just as I did when I was in New York, because I’m excited to continue growing with City Year and I look forward to meeting more service-minded individuals. You never know where a year of service will take you!

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