Tommey is a proud AmeriCorps member serving on the Wells Fargo Team at Ed White High Schooll. If you like Tommey''s story, follow him on Instagram @tommeyliang and Twitter @tommeyliang.

What were you Doing before City Year?

"I was completing my undergraduate degree in journalism at the University of Florida. I was involved in student organizations such as the Asian American Student Union, SAVANT Leadership Honorary, Journalism and Communications Ambassadors, Off Campus Ambassadors and AfterSchool Gators. I was social media chair for Involvement Team, online content editor for Sparks Magazine, an Asian-interest magazine, and historian for Society of Professional Journalists."


Why did you choose to serve?

"I chose to serve because I went on a Florida Alternative Breaks trip to an elementary school in Atlanta. There, I got to experience the social issue of educational inequality. I was interested in a variety of social justice issues before, but that trip and learning about City Year from one of the people I admired at UF, definitely sparked my fire."

How have you been challenged?

"I've been challenged by broadening my leadership qualities and learning more about the influence that I hold. I've been challenged on the professional, social and emotional levels. Whether it's building relationships with students and seeing those socio-academic improvements, or working with teammates or partner teachers, I've been stretched and figured out ways to grow from those opportunities. There were times that I felt I wasn't ready to do something, but with a little reassurance from others and being able to freely admit mistakes, I realized it was meant to challenge me and help me blossom into the person I want to be."

City Year culture is a big part of your service year. What was your favorite culture piece. Why?

"My favorite culture piece is unity rally during learning and development days. I enjoy seeing all of the other AmeriCorps members unified and performing physical training! It's riveting and gives me energy. There are a lot of hugs and love involved as well during unity rally."

How have you been personally impacted?

"Emotionally, professionally and intellectually. I've had misty eyes many times this year. Whether it was because of my housemates' love, the rapport I've built with students, or the goodness of my team, I've been vulnerable and sensitive. Professionally, City Year isn't just about service, but it also has as much professional development. During these past seven months of service, I've matured and fostered more confidence than in 20 years of existence, and I have been able to better lead with excellence. On an intellectual level, I've learned so much more about empathy, diversity and working together on a team and with other professional adults, such as the teachers and administration. I've learned many facets about the worlds of students - their perspectives, and ultimately, acquired knowledge about the root of education on the local and national levels."

How do you know you've made an impact?

"I've impacted Jacksonville by being immersed in faith-based organizations and being engaged in the various nightlife and music events. I've made an effect on my school by programming innovative events, such as a Black History Month picture event on Feb. 27, and by displaying my spirit and enthusiasm through the students and the halls. I definitely know I've made a difference in students' lives when they aspire to get a higher score on an assignment, a higher grade in class and their eyes light up when they share their stories with me. Also, seeing a few reading and writing improvements through data helps."

If happiness was the national currency, what kind of job would make you rich?

"Being a motivational speaker, traveling and talking to college students on all of the U.S. campuses. I consider myself to be a very positive person, especially when it comes to building up other people. I love energizing and encouraging others to rise up, take a call to action and urge them to start creating their pathways."

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