The Rios sisters, Lexie and Selina, have proudly served together the last 2 years as City Year AmeriCorps members.
We come from a big family- there’s 8 kids in all (with the same mom and dad). In the lineup we are numbers 4 & 6. Originally from Kansas City, MO, we are both serving on the City Year Kansas City startup team
Name: Selina Rios
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
University: William Jewell College
Service Years (Programs) City Year Cleveland, Tulsa and KC (5 years total)
Selina: I got my degree in International Relations and was supposed to go to law school. I wanted to take some time before committing to going back to school and sought out service opportunities. I applied to the Peace Corps and it wasn’t the right fit for me at the time, so I ended up landing a substitute teaching position right before coming to City Year I was actually Lexie’s substitute teacher.. That was actually how I knew we could work together. I eventually found City Year and was hired as a first year Team Leader. It was such a challenging year, but I loved it. I stayed with City Year Cleveland for 3 years, before moving to help launch City Year Tulsa.r. When I heard City Year would be starting in Kansas City, I know I had to go and be in my hometown. . I began serving serving in the school district I grew up in and I am now serving at the school our older brother attended.
Name: Lexie Rios
Hometown: Kansas CIty
Service Years ( Programs) City Year Tulsa and Kansas City (2 years)
Lexie: School was always hard for me, which made me feel very insecure. I regularly shut down and I was not self motivated. Instead, I put a lot of my time and effort into extracurricular activities. I think the only thing that really saved me in school was the support I got from my family and school community. Now as a City Year AmeriCorps member, you realize that everyone doesn’t get the support that I did. I serve to empower my students to see their own self worth. I had teachers that made me feel like I could be great and I want to be that person for others.
What has it been like serving in your hometown?
Selina- I think we both have such a deep love for Kansas City. I've been gone for much longer than Lexie, so for me it was strange coming home to a life I had left behind. I think sometimes families don’t always understand what life as a City Year AmeriCorps member entails, however, we’ve been fortunate that our family is very familiar with our service. Between the two of us and our sister Gloria, who served in San Antonio, our family knows City Year really well.
Lexie- I love Kansas City. In Tulsa I was primarily invested in the students and organization. After moving back,, I feel a love and deep connection to my city that I didn't have before. I want to continue to be invested and I feel driven to keep serving students. I know there are a lot of places that I want to go, but Kansas City will always be home.
Has serving together changed your relationship?
Selina- Yes.. I’m 8 years older than Lexie, so I have always seen her as my little sister. I’m getting used to the fact that she's getting older and growing up. I thought it would be weird working with her, but it hasn't been. I'm used to being the one giving her advice and now that she’s had similar experiences as me, I find myself going to her for advice. She's an amazing young woman and I'm so proud of who she is becoming. I’m sure we would have been this close one day, but these past two years with City Year Kansas City have given us such a unique experience and connected us in a way that is hard to explain. She's not just a little sister that I feel like I have to protect anymore, she is my friend and a trusted colleague.
Lexie- Selina started college when I was in 5th grade. She graduated when I was a freshman and started substitute teaching at my school that year. That same year I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and got really sick. She helped my parents take care of me and I know that that things would have been a different if she hadn't. After she moved to Cleveland, I went through the rest of high school and honestly, I didn't think we were very close or similar. After I graduated from high school I moved to Tulsa and I was nervous that I wouldn't be comfortable or happy, but I trusted her. I have always looked up to all my sisters, and they thought City Year would be good for me. I don’t think Selina and I would be as close if we hadn’t done City Year together. I believe a lot of my professional development and maturity over these past couple of years has been because of her. She is my own personal mentor and I feel blessed to have her as my sister and someone I can connect with in my service.
Do you think any other family members will serve?
Selina- Absolutely. I'm proud that my siblings have trusted me enough to follow my example in school and in service. So it may not necessarily be City Year, but I know that my nieces, nephews and other younger siblings will probably all do some sort of service. It’s becoming a family tradition!
Lexie- Oh for sure. My mom always tells me that she can see that we really love what we do. I know that the nature of our job makes her nervous, and she knows how much this work takes, but she is always encouraging me. She tells my brothers they need to find purpose like us. Even my sister Gloria, who served in San Antonio, found a lot of purpose in her City Year experience. She is in a different line of work now, but you can tell it made a difference in her life. Gloria still talks about her students and I think that’s amazing. Our family values are rooted in working hard, it’s how our parents raised us. It’s because of that, that I know we will all continue to serve.
What do you plan to do after City Year?
Selina- Right now I'm committed to working and serving with City Year. I have the opportunity to be the Learning and Evaluation Director here in Kansas City and I have found an amazing and challenging career within the organization.
Lexie- Before City Year, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. After serving two years, I know I want to work in education. I recently accepted an offer to be a Literacy Lead with Reading Partners in Tulsa. I'm going to go to school at the same time to study deaf education. I want to work as a specialist, helping students who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Do you have an advice for future AmeriCorps Members?
Selina-Find the purpose in it all. There are so many things you can’t control, so you just have to learn to be OKAY with that. Don’t let that bog you down. Find out where you do have influence and be the best that you can be at that.
Lexie- Staying committed could feel like the hardest thing to do sometimes, but try to stay in it. Have your whole heart in your service selflessly while still taking care of yourself.
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