City Year alumna Desiree Nwankpa (New Hampshire '14) utilized her experience working in a school setting during her corps year to enhance her path to higher education. Through City Year's University Partnership with the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work at the University of Southern California, Desiree was able to take advantage of the tuition scholarship provided exclusively to City Year alumni. Desiree now works at Inner Circle FFA as a Foster Care Social Worker. Learn how Desiree benefited from City Year both personally and professionally.
How did you first hear about City Year? What interested you about the City Year AmeriCorps member position?
I first heard about City Year after participating in JumpStart, another AmeriCorps program. What interested me the most about City Year was being offered the opportunity to work in a school setting on a daily basis.
What was the most challenging aspect of your service year?
The most challenging aspect of my service year was getting used to working 10-12 hour days. Transitioning from my flexible college schedule to a full workday was definitely a tough transition.
How did you address this challenge and what did you learn from this experience?
I addressed the challenge with lots of self-care! My roommate (another AmeriCorps Member) and I became really close friends and we made sure to periodically treat ourselves. What I learned from overcoming this challenge was the importance of managing my schedule and being able to find a balance between work time and relaxation time.
How did your experience serving as a City Year AmeriCorps member prepare you for this next step?
After City Year, I decided to pursue a Master of Social Work degree and was accepted into the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work where I received the City Year scholarship. Upon graduation, I took a job as a social worker in the Los Angeles area. During my service year, I served in a 4th grade classroom. Working with 4th graders helped me maintain my ability to be patient, stay organized, and build rapport with others. As a social worker, it is imperative that I remain patient when working with clients, keep my files organized and up to date, and build rapport with the foster parents and minors I work with.
How did you discover the partnership and what led you to deciding to use it?
I discovered the City Year partnership with University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work via the City Year alumni website. In addition to USC’s Social Work program being ranked #12 on the U.S. News and World Report, the program also offered scholarships to City Year Alumni.
How has use of this partnership advanced your career?
The use of City Year’s partnership with USC provided me the opportunity to better afford going to Grad School. Participating in City Year in addition to attending one of the top MSW programs in the Nation allowed me to have a competitive resume and be a part of two strong Alumni Organizations.
Tell us about what you do now. What company do you work for and what role do you play there?
As a Foster Care Social Worker at Inner Circle FFA, my duties include: conducting weekly visits to each of the foster homes on my caseload, writing weekly contact notes for each minor, providing support and resources to foster parents and minors, meeting one-on-one with minors to check on their well-being, scheduling and monitoring visits with birth families, taking minors out for monthly outings, transporting minors when necessary, filing paperwork into their respective binders, and corresponding with county workers. I currently have a 17-child caseload and I am also supervising an intern that is currently pursuing her MSW degree.
City Year Alumni University Partners are a network of higher education institutions providing benefits to members of the City Year network. Our wide range of partners believe the service experience of City Year alumni can be an incredible asset to their communities, no matter the specific focus of their program. City Year is proud to partner with the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work to award six $15,000 Masters of Social Work scholarships to City Year AmeriCorps members, alumni or staff, plus additional scholarship opportunities annually.