2014-04-24

Served: City Year San José ‘13
Current Occupation: Student at UMass Amherst
Fun Fact: Gabe collects a key chain from every place he travels to.

As a high school student, Gabe Sehringer aspired toward college. He began researching universities as a sophomore and by junior year he had a long list of schools he wanted to apply to. However, by the end of his senior year, he realized something was missing. Continue reading to learn about Gabe’s gap year with City Year.

City Year Boston (CYB):   Why did you decide to apply to City Year?

Gabe Sehringer (GS): I applied for a few reasons. I wanted to try something new and to gain perspective before going to college. I come from a cookie cutter town so to speak. Everyone pretty much had the same beliefs. And we were all expected to go to college. […] I didn’t want to go away to school with only that one perspective. I wanted to meet new people, and immerse myself in new place before college.

CYB: How did you know you were making a difference as a corps member?

GS: So, San José is a little different than other City Year sites. We start off supporting Summer Academy, which is like summer school. It’s sort of the testing ground and is our BTA [Basic Training Academy]. You can really test your teaching styles and explore what it’s like to work with different ages of students.

I worked with Darnell* in Summer Academy. […] It really takes him a while to trust others. For the first week and a half of summer school, he wouldn’t talk to us, wouldn’t open us to us. In the last few days, he started to open up emotionally and telling us about his life.

After Summer Academy, we are placed in our schools. I realized the school I was placed in was Darnell’s school and I was able to really continue building a relationship with him.

I actually ended up tutoring him in handwriting—which is not typical for City Year. But his teacher thought it might empower him to write more and to write cohesively if he was confident in his handwriting skills.  

For the first few months Darnell worked on this; then about half way through the year I began tutoring him in other subjects too.

[…] We developed such a strong rapport that I could gage his mood as he walked into a room. He had difficulty immersing himself in learning environment and was often distracted by what was happening at home. I’d walk up to him and ask “What’s wrong?”

He’d let me know whether it was a good time to talk or whether he needed a minute to cool off. Sometimes I’d have him write down his thoughts to channel his frustrations.

I was really proud of his growth over the year. He ended up meeting his literacy goals. Though he wouldn’t always admit it, those accomplishments really made him proud.

CYB:   Tell me about a major challenge you faced during your service year and how you overcame it.

GS: I think one challenge was being the youngest person on my team. I was actually the youngest in my corps year. I think it was difficult to overcome the preconception as being “immature.” I don’t think this reaction was intentional by any means. But when you hear someone is 17 and you’re 23, you sort of automatically wonder if they can keep up with the amount of work.

I felt I had to prove that I could do the work and keep up. I took on opportunities both inside and out of my corps year. […] I think this helped people realized that I wasn’t just coming to school, doing the work, and leaving. I was involved in students outside of school. We would go to basketball games, and we went to a 5K—we had to wake up at 5 a.m. to go to that race. It’s important to be involved not just in tutoring and afterschool, show dedication to your students and community always.

CYB:  Now you’re studying in marketing at UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management. What do enjoy about your major?

I knew I didn’t want to become a teacher long-term; I loved working with kids, but I prefer to build long-term relationships. I didn’t like the idea of getting a new batch of kids every year.

What I love about business and marketing is that you can interact with people. It sort of combines all my favorite things. And it’s very similar to serving with City Year  […] You’ve got to be good at presenting, getting up in front of a group and sharing ideas. You have to prepare what you’re going before you go into the classroom, same as you do in marketing. You also have to be convincing: if you don’t care—no one else will either.

It’s not too late to apply to serve with us next year! Applications are due April 30

Want to meet more of our fantastic alumni?

* Name changed to protect student privacy

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