“My parents never verbally said, ‘oh you need to do public service’ or anything, it was more like ‘oh, by the way, you are going to go to this public service event with me,’” shares college graduate Darius Holliday, and current AmeriCorps Team Leader at Jean Ribault High School. Describing the journey that led him to serve, he puts it as simply as he can. “My parent’s public service has always been in different ways, but I was able to get it a glimpse from them, and I knew I eventually wanted to give to my community too.”
With a mother in education and father as a Human Rights State Attorney Prosecutor, it’s no surprise Darrius and his twin sister would yearn to make a difference and find themselves both associated with an organization such as City Year Jacksonville. Upon obtaining his Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Social Science from Florida State University, Darrius made his way back to Jacksonville and it wasn’t just his powerful influences that brought him back home – “The pride people have in Jacksonville is incomparable and admirable,” explained Darrius. “I decided to take a gap year to prepare for law school and commit myself to a nonprofit that was invested in the community.”
“I wanted to serve in a community I that was close to,” said Darrius as the 9th and 10th graders he supports rush off to lunch. “I had a lot of different options but I felt like coming back to Jacksonville was more for me.” Already being familiar with the community, Darrius benefits from the ability to jump right into the students’ needs versus having to spend time getting to know the community and learning how things work.
Darius and his team serving on the Acosta Team at Jean Ribault High School
As spring arrives and finals approach, Darrius reflects on his year of service and talks about the impression he hopes to leave. “I am really different compared to what they see every single day within their school and community, in terms of how I speak, dress and carry myself,” Darrius explains. “One of the things I observed throughout this school year is that students are really influenced just by what they see. I understand they want to do what their friends are doing, I get it. But at some point, they have to start thinking for themselves, especially considering some influences in these communities aren’t necessarily the best ones.” Realizing how his presence can be a lasting impact itself, Darrius hopes students take his nerdy charisma and carefree humor, and aspire to be the unique, best versions of themselves.
“My mom and sister are both important in terms of how they do their public service but, seeing people like me, men like me in the community, getting their hands dirty, giving back was the most important. From my father, his friends, my former head coach, there has always been a group of men of color giving back to the community in my life and I saw how selfless it is. Now, here I am doing the same.”
After his service year, Darius is planning to pursue either Tax Law or Intellectual Property Law. Darrius has applied to six law schools, has been accepted into three and waiting to hear from the remaining three. In the meantime, he continues to reflect on the amazing opportunity to serve the students at Jean Ribault High School. "At City Year I have been able to just take one year of my life and simply give my time to my community – it’s a rewarding experience."
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