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Why Taking a Gap Year Was Right for Me

Let me begin with honesty – I did not expect to serve as an AmeriCorps member with City Year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to my application, I was looking forward to graduating with my undergraduate peers, was thriving in an academic and workspace, and was fostering new relationships. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all these areas were pretty much thrown out the window. Even though I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Classic Civilization, and Religious Studies (yes, I triple majored) with Honors Distinction, I had to delay my transition into graduate school. I lost all my jobs March 13th when we were declared on lockdown and tensions in my personal life were high.  

Being in AmeriCorps during these troubling times made me have a sense of purpose and allowed my time to be spent serving students in Milwaukee Public Schools where I am an alum. I felt that I was able to give back to a community that gave me so much when I was in the positions, outside and inside of school, like the students we are serving.  

Serving has allowed me to gain more confidence in creating and maintaining boundaries that will avoid possible burnout which I plan on carrying over into my graduate pursuits. I have been exposed to various work support and views from my peers that I hope to maintain awareness of when moving forward with my career. But most importantly, I have learned and applied how to always think about the bigger picture when it comes to refocusing our service on our students. With today’s political and cultural tensions, the ones that I believe are forgotten are our studentsand so helping them digest the information around them and support their academic and personal needs is vital to our unique service during the pandemic.  

Do you know an 18-25 year old interested in doing a year of service with City Year Milwaukee? Encourage them to apply today.

About the Author:

Kristen Leer is an AmeriCorps member serving at Harold S. Vincent High School.





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