Erica is a proud AmeriCorps member serving on the Jacksonville Jaguars team at Gilbert Middle School. If you like Erica's story, follow her on Twitter @EricaRickey and Instagram @erickey14
What were you Doing before City Year?
"I attended The College of Wooster for four years, where I earned my Bachelor's Degree in Political Theory. I participated in Greek Life (my sorority Delta Theta Psi), BSA (Black Student Association), k(NO)w (an anti-sexual assault group I co-founded) and Moot Court (simulated argument in front of the Supreme Court). I am a four-time All-American in Moot Court and I held various leadership positions in Theta, including Treasurer."
Why did you choose to serve?
"I serve because I am passionate about education in general, and I love doing service as well, so City Year is the ideal combination of these interests. I also love to help others in any way that I can, so I enjoy getting to spend time with my students and doing everything I can to help them. Additionally, my high school was a very small school and my graduating class was only 91 people. However, freshman year my class started with 120. This difference is drastic, but coming from a rural area we don't have the same kinds of programs that urban areas do, which motivated me to serve in an organization like City Year. I don't want anyone else to have to suffer through such drastic losses and feel like they don't have anyone to turn to for help."
How have you been challenged?
"One of the most challenging aspects of my service originates in my dramatically different background than my students. I come from a very small rural area with a population that severely lacks diversity, which inhibited my ability to understand where my students were coming from and the experiences they had. However, I have found that asking my students questions has been the best way to not only learn their culture, but also to bond with them."
City Year culture is a big part of your service year. What was your favorite culture piece. Why?
"My favorite City Year culture piece is PT. I absolutely love PT and I'm happy and proud to say that I serve on one of our two PT crews! PT truly sums up the City Year experience by combining physical activity with verbal cues and unity."
How have you been personally impacted?
"I have been extremely awed and humbled by my service thus far. I have learned how to better work on a team, how to effectively communicate with many types of people, how to have patience in a variety of situations and that there are many different yet valid ways to achieve a goal. I have been shown that people can come from many backgrounds and circumstances and work together effectively. My students have shown me the power of persistence and the results of showing someone the care and respect they deserve. I believe that I have been more greatly impacted by this year of service than every before in my life."
How do you know you've made an impact?
"I personally measure impact by the responses I get from my students when I'm not nagging them about their work. When I get smiles and waves and non-school related conversations and confidences from my students, that's how I know a real impact has been made. It's one thing to see data improve, but I try to achieve a holistic improvement and overall positive relationships with my students."
If happiness was the national currency, what kind of job would make you rich?
"This job would make me rich. So much happiness is generated on a daily basis by my students and I am so fortunate to be able to share in some of it or even to be a catalyst for some of it. It makes me happy every single day to know that I am doing my best to impact my students lives for the better, and that they are impacting me just as much."
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