By Chinonso Aladi, AmeriCorps Member at Mifflin High School

I had several reasons for joining City Year, but more than anything, for the students we serve, I wanted to be the person I needed when I was 15 and in high school.

It’s tough out here, traversing through the teenage years, and I for one had so many reasons I disliked school. I was the kid who missed school occasionally, had trouble with math and absolutely disliked science. Focusing in school became harder and harder for me. My grades often fluctuated, and trying to bring those grades up was a struggle. I understood that struggle, and felt maybe someone out there might be facing similar challenges.

Fast forward to my college years at Kent State. I decided I needed a summer job and made up my mind to attend the career fair to find any possibilities of a temporary job. Everything changed for me that day after speaking to a City Year recruiter. I just knew I had to do it. 

I knew this was a great opportunity to pay it forward, just like my teacher in elementary school who mentored, coached and sat down with me during lunch to get work done. She also made me feel like I had an additional person in my corner rooting for my success.

Making up my mind to do City Year wasn’t difficult. All I wanted to be was the person that mentored, tutored and cared about our students. I believed in the idea and have never looked back. Wearing the red jacket signifies hope to me: hope for my students to make the right decision to stay in school, believe they can change themselves and the world, and hope for the power of young people.

The experience of City Year is such a beautiful thing. That is why I wake up every morning and wear those boots and the red jacket.

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