Arica Watford is a Team Leader at Edwin Markham Middle School in Watts. Originally from Connecticut, Arica previously served at Beech Street Elementary School with City Year New Hampshire after graduating from the University of Connecticut. In the midst of relocating across the country and preparing her team for a year of service, she took time to reflect on the path that brought her to Los Angeles, and to service.
What inspired me to serve in City Year? Growing up my parents always pushed me to be successful. My entire life, my mother and father underscored the value of a good education. When I was 10, our family moved to the suburbs of Connecticut and enrolled me in private school. They set high expectations for me; college was not an option, but a necessity. I went to the University of Connecticut for my undergraduate degree, which would not have been possible without the hard work and sacrifice of my parents. I was keenly aware of my privileges growing up and I am grateful for everything that my parents provided me in order to get me to where I am today.
One thing I wish I had growing up were near-peers that resembled me. Throughout my life, I lived and learned from almost all-white peers, teachers, and counselors. And while I am appreciative of them, I always felt a sense of not belonging. As an educated woman of color, I wanted to make sure that I gave back to children who looked like me and show them that they can be successful no matter the odds. At the start of my sophomore year in college, I became involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters where I mentored an elementary school Latino boy for three years. I formed a strong bond with him and he is really what drove me to continue service after college.
When I heard about City Year, I knew it was the perfect fit for me. I served one year in City Year New Hampshire and loved it. When the time came to apply for a second year I knew my work was not finished. I decided to apply to City Year Los Angeles, and I am here excited to start the new service year!
I serve because I want my sisters to know they can be great too. I serve because of women like Serena Williams, Sandra Bland, Michelle Obama, Angela Davis and Korryn Gaines. I serve because society tells little black girls that they can't, and I want them to know that they CAN and they WILL.