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Serving with City Year sharpens job skills, HBCU graduate says

If you speak with an alum of an historically Black college or university (HBCU) about their experience, you’ll quickly learn that service to their community is one of the hallmarks of HBCU campus culture.

So, it’s no surprise that many HBCU graduates apply to serve in schools with City Year as AmeriCorps members after they receive their bachelor’s degrees. This year alone, 49 HBCUs are represented among the currently serving corps, coming from about half of the nation’s 100 HBCUs.

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 Our third story in our HBCU series features Alexsia Henderson, Hampton University graduate serving with City Year Philadelphia.

In a series of interviews, we talked with currently serving corps members who are HBCU graduates about how their education at historically Black institutions have informed their decision to serve with City Year as student success coaches.

Learn more from Joana Mejia a Benedict College graduate currently serving with City Year Columbia:

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Joana Mejia and I’m an alum of Benedict College in Columbia, SC. I graduate in May 2023 with a BS in psychology. I currently serve with City Year Columbia.

How did your HBCU experience prepare you for service?

During my time at Benedict College, I learned some of those soft-skills you need to thrive in any career—time-management and working in a collaborative, team environment.

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Learn about City Year’s unique approach to student and school success.

What should HBCU students and alums know about City Year? 

Other HBCU students need to know about the potential benefits of serving with AmeriCorps organizations like City Year, as well as the professional and personal development opportunities CY offers throughout the service year and after.

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 Did you know that serving with City Year can help you finish undergraduate studies, attend graduate school, or gain skills that will help you in your job search? Explore the exclusive scholarships and opportunities you are eligible for as a City Year AmeriCorps member and alum.

Why do you think more HBCU alums should serve with City Year?

I think more HBCU alums should consider CY because of the professional development opportunities you’re afforded during service and the career or education opportunities after service.

Also, if you’re not quite sure what you want to do after graduation, City Year is a great for someone looking to explore their interests before committing to a certain career path.

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Check out the impact our 40,000 alums are making across a wide range of professions.

What did your students know about HBCU’s before they met you?

My students did not know what HBCUs were before they met me but hopefully through their interactions with me, they’ll keep HBCUs in mind when it’s time for them to apply to colleges and universities.

What advice would you give for an HBCU student or alum considering City Year?

Do your research on the different sites, speak to currently serving City Year AmeriCorps members or alum and ask questions. Once you start service, never forget to extend yourself grace!

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