Life After City Year: From Graduation to Occupations
During City Year, AmeriCorps members are encouraged to form a Life After City Year (LACY) plan, an integral part of the AmeriCorps experience. By providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and professional workshops, City Year is dedicated to supporting the growth of our young people. During their service year, our Corps members hone multiple skills that provide them with opportunities that can translate into any career path they choose. Sometimes, their LACY plans turn into STAY-CY plans, meaning they return to City Year, either as a second year Corps member, Team Leader, Service Leader, or a staff member.
Today, we have four Corps members with us who are sharing their LACY plans. Meet Aileen Bell, Alexis Chambers, Carl Lasker, and Kunal Vij to learn more about their journey with City Year Washington, DC and where they’re headed next!
Aileen Bell is a first-year Corps member who served this year at Hart Middle School. She had plans to do field organizing for a political campaign, but because of the pandemic, organizing jobs became scarce. She considered looking into AmeriCorps after she heard an interview on NPR explaining how important school staff were going to be in the virtual education space. Then Aileen found City Year.
“City Year is a nonprofit that wants to create a more equitable education system. That is what I want to do with my life, go into education, but try to make it more equitable and create a better system.”
When Aileen found City Year, it was perfect because she wanted to come to DC because of policy and politics. Teaching was a career path she was interested in, but she did not know if she would be good at it. Aileen was able to explore this interest through City Year. With the uncertainties she had about her future after college, City Year gave her the opportunity to explore something she was passionate about. Aileen is joining Urban Teachers in the fall. Her time at City Year made her love working directly with kids and being a part of a school community.
She is excited about joining Urban Teachers because people can get their Master’s in Education, receive a teaching certification, as well as a lot of hands-on training, coaching, and tutoring.
We asked her what are some of the skills and lessons that she took away from City Year. Aileen shared:
“Relationship building understanding how to be flexible, and time management. Relationship building has become an important skill for me. I realized that I cannot approach every person and student I work with, with the same attitude or plan. It is not going to work for every single student. I think that will be helpful going into teaching full time.”
Next, meet Alexis Chamber, she is a first-year Corps member who decided to serve with City Year because she enjoys working with children. Like most college graduates, the question is, ‘what’s next?’ Alexis has always been interested in working with kids and decided to try City Year. Her LACY plans involve working at a school with special needs students as an applied behavioral analysis instructor.
When she was in college she worked with a program for college-age students that had autism or down syndrome. They came from all over the country and the world to come earn a degree and experience college life. City Year gave Alexis the opportunity to keep working with students. Learning and Development Days, where we provide professional workshops, training, and networking opportunities, helped Alexis pinpoint exactly what she wanted to do once she completed her service year. Alongside working with special needs students, she also hopes to go back to school to pursue nursing.
We asked Alexis what are some of the skills and lessons she took away from City Year. She shared:
“City Year has built up my confidence level. Before City Year, I was a very reserved and quiet person. When we had days that we were all together, I was afraid of being judged. Now I speak up more, and I learned the importance of self-advocacy.”
Alexis plans to use those skills in her next role as an applied behavioral analysis instructor to empower students with special needs.
Our next first year Corps member is Carl Lasker, who decided to serve with City Year because he has always liked working with kids. He started working with kids when he was 13 years old at his local Boys & Girls Club and has continued working with children ever since. In high school, Carl started volunteering every Sunday as a second-grade classroom assistant at his temple’s religious school, and in college, he worked with children with special needs. He was attracted to the idea of doing a service year before going to Yale Law School. Carl chose City Year because he strongly identified with our mission.
“I am grateful that I got to serve during COVID because I feel like my service was helpful to the teachers who are trying so hard to adapt to virtual learning. So, I am glad that the one year I got to serve was one where it was important to have people step up.”
Carl says City Year’s Learning and Development days focused on diversity, equity, belonging, and inclusion shaped who he wants to be as a lawyer and what perspectives he will bring with him to law school. The lessons City Year conducted on racial inequality sparked thought-provoking conversations in his head. For instance, does he want to use his future law degree to enter the realm of child advocacy?
Next meet Kunal Vij, a Senior Corps member who decided to return to City Year for another service year. Kunal’s LACY plan turned into a STAY-CY plan last March because COVID left him eager to build deeper relationships with his students. He chose City Year as a gap year before going to medical school. City Year was an opportunity for him to be selfless and serve his community right at home. He enjoyed doing one on one mentoring in his undergrad with a local elementary school, and it was something he wanted to continue. His current LACY plan is to attend West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine this fall. He will be wrapping up his two years with City Year this month.
“COVID reaffirmed for me that I want to be in the medical field to provide support for people in a very fundamental way, which is through their health. And as we have seen through COVID, health can affect many aspects of our life.”
We asked him what was and one of the most important skills or lessons he took away from City Year. Kunal shared:
“I learned the importance of listening to people, which was a skill I struggled with. To build relationships with my students, I had to work at it. Listening seems like a simple skill, but that is not always the case. Listening to students is not a one band-aid fits all approach. It is more than understanding to respond, it is about creating a safe environment for them to express themselves so that you can best help them. City Year provided me with a way to hone in on the skills that are required for a medical professional, empathizing with our students like you would do so with patients.”
Serving with City Year offers AmeriCorps members the chance to develop many different skill sets that will transfer to their future careers. If you would like to learn more about City Year Washington, DC, you can visit www.cityyear.org/dc.
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