2016-10-31

By Christopher Love
City Year Detroit '14, '15
University of Michigan '13, '16

 

Why did I become a mentor? Growing up in Detroit, my twin brother and I were fortunate to have a strong support system in our mother and father, grandparents, mentors, and church family to help me graduate, succeed and prepare for college. This is not always the case for many high school students in my hometown city of Detroit. It’s like this headline says, having active mentors is a great tool for fighting educational inequities. I have always had a passion for mentoring young black men and women to help them change their lives for the better.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 2013, I was excited to return home and serve under-resourced communities with City Year. In my first year as an AmeriCorps member, I served with a phenomenal team and partner teacher devoted to making a difference in the classroom and the community. In my second year as a Team Leader, I led a group of first year AmeriCorps members at that same high school. Through this humbling experience, I further learned the true value of hard work and persistence. 

So much of becoming a mentor is listening and building a trusting relationship with your students. 

For many of my students, coming to school was a safe haven from the outside stressors of life that they or their family might be facing. I had the privilege of listening to students and offering advice or insight regarding their personal problems and challenges.   

During my second year, one of my students was on track to being expelled for fighting. After appealing the expulsion, he returned to school six weeks into the fall semester. I diligently worked with him for several months to help him get caught up on school work and to help him develop nonviolent ways to resolve challenges. I saw the positive progression he made each week with teachers and fellow classmates.

Because I intervened at the right time, I was able to make a positive, tangible impact. He reminded me every day that I was his “favorite City Year” and was glad we were working together to improve his grades and behavior in school and at home.  

City Year AmeriCorps members do not serve in schools to save poor, disadvantaged children; they are in place to enhance the school climate and culture as well as serve as positive role models for students. Throughout my two years of service, I motivated my students by telling them that no adversity is too hard to overcome; with the right support and mindset, one can accomplish any goal and overcome any obstacle.   

City Year taught me how to adapt to various working, communication, and leadership styles. Because I worked with students in the same subject area five days a week, I learned to remain patient and respect the process. When working collaboratively with my team toward a common goal, I learned to cultivate different working styles in order to produce the best results. These skills and experiences will greatly influence the work I commit to long-term as I move forward in my professional trajectory.  

Having completed my City Year service in June 2015, I returned to my alma mater University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and am currently obtaining my Master of Arts degree in Higher Education. My long-term goal is to attain my PhD in Higher Education and serve as a Dean of Students or Vice President of Student Affairs at a college or university focusing on recruiting and retaining underrepresented students. I believe in the power of mentorship and hope to continue my legacy as a proud product of Detroit, Michigan.

Do you want to mentor students AND earn scholarships for your education at The University of Michigan? The University of Michigan Law School is one of our University Partners! They offer $10,000 annual scholarships for City Year AmeriCorps members, senior AmeriCorps members, alumni and staff who are admitted into their program. For full details and to review eligibility requirements, please visit our website.  

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