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Five Lessons from a Returning AmeriCorps Member

My name is Alexis Jefferson, and I proudly serve as a City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member on the Rockwell Automation Team at Rogers Street Academy. My students are the biggest contributors to why I chose to come back this year to do a second year of service. I built relationships with them that I’ll hold close to my heart for the rest of my life.

During my first year of service, I was blessed with the best team and leadership that I could have asked for. My Team Leader and Impact Manager really forced me to get outside of what I thought was my comfort zone. They helped me grow professionally and personally in ways I did not even know I needed. I’ll never forget my RogLodge 8.0 team; they are going to do powerful things in this world we live in.

Throughout my first year of service, I learned many important lessons and had many valuable experiences that have influenced me to continue serving to make better happen for our students.

1. Find your voice and use it.

The biggest lesson I learned last year, and something that I am still working on, is understanding that my opinion is valid and should be heard. I am also learning to not over-think, and to ask for help when I need it. I learned that if you do not ask for help, you are going to put too much on your plate and become overwhelmed. There are so many people in this organization that are here to help you. Take advantage of the ample amount of advice and support available to you.

2. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and lead.

City Year has helped me grow professionally and personally in a lot of ways. I’ve always been super quiet and shy and have never viewed myself as a leader. City Year gave me the opportunity to become a leader, and to view myself as a leader. There were many times throughout the year where I was given the chance to lead my team in different events we held. It just makes you feel powerful and like you are apart of something great, especially when those events turn out great.

3. Remember to take care of yourself.

The biggest piece of advice I can give to incoming, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps Members is to try as hard as you can to separate work from your personal life. Most of your day is spent in service and bringing that home is going to burn you out.

4. Take time to build relationships.

The relationships I built with not only my students, but their parents, had a huge impact on my service. During the year we had a few parent teacher conferences and there was an instance where one of my students’ parents brought up one of the positive phone calls I made home. My student’s parent cried and I almost cried with them just because of the ripple effect our service had. I’ll never forget the feeling I got when speaking with that parent. It was so powerful.

5. Never lose the human aspect of what you are doing.

My favorite moment as a City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member was watching my eighth graders graduate on to high school. It was super bittersweet because the year was over, but it just made every trial and error I went through this past year worth it. Enjoy every moment you have with your students, because it goes by too fast.

Blog post written by Alexis Jefferson, Second Year City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member on the Rockwell Automation Team at Rogers Street Academy

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