My Red Jacket Dedication: To Dr. Roche, Professor and Mentor
At the start of each year, each City Year site holds a Red Jacket Dedication ceremony where every City Year AmeriCorps and staff member receives their red jacket and dedicates it to a person, idea, or cause that inspires them to serve. Our Red Jacket Dedication blog series features stories from our AmeriCorps members on what inspires them to put on their red jacket every day and deliver excellent service. You can read our first installment here:
I chose to dedicate my City Year red jacket this year to one of my professors and mentors, Dr. Michael Roche, who has guided me and taught me a lot about what it means to serve your community and live a life of compassion for yourself and the people around you. Dr. Roche has spent his entire life teaching and mentoring others both in the classroom and in life. When I decided to serve with City Year, he was one of the first people that I told, and I am honored to dedicate my jacket to someone like him who exemplifies service to others.
I first met Dr. Roche during my freshman year at the University of South Dakota when he taught my introduction to Criminal Justice course. Going into the class, I had heard many great things about Dr. Roche from classmates and past students (dating back 40 years), and even from the first class, I could immediately see why everyone spoke so highly of him. Dr. Roche opened every single class time by saying, “It’s nice to be with you”, and we knew he meant it every time. This statement is a small example of the way Dr. Roche demonstrated his care for his students. When I struggled to understand content in his class, Dr. Roche helped by pairing me with another student and always checked in to make sure I could do as well as he knew I was capable of in his class.
Over my time in college, I took all five classes he taught, and in my last semester of college, I was lucky enough to take his Justice and Compassion course, which really prepared me for my time at City Year. A unique service-learning class, we essentially spent every Wednesday discussing and practicing different ways to better understand the people in the world around us. We talked about empathy, what it means to truly care about someone else, and how we were working on being better people in our everyday lives. Now in my work at City Year, I get to put these skills into practice to understand my students and the future of the world for them. So many of the lessons that I learned with Dr. Roche cross my mind daily as I try to meet and support my students where they are.
Dr. Roche has this metaphor that he often shares with students – move around the lantern. If you look through a lantern, you will see things differently from someone looking through the lantern from the other side, or even from right next to you. Life is all about meeting people with different perspectives and understanding that we must “move around the lantern” to try and better understand something we may have never experienced. In my service so far, I have thought about this metaphor a lot as I remember that my students come from all different backgrounds, each with their own unique life experiences. In the short time that I have been in the classroom so far, I am in awe of what my students have taught me just by being themselves.
Having professors and mentors like Dr. Roche throughout my life helped me realize my full potential. Without the support of my mentors and professors, I never would have kept believing in myself or understood all that I am capable of. I chose to serve with City Year this year because I want to give the same support to young people that so many teachers and mentors gave to me. In my role this year as a student success coach, I hope to lead students to discover all the greatness that they have already inside them. Sometimes, all a young person needs is an adult that believes in them.
I dedicated my red jacket to Dr. Roche as he is the mentor that I hope to be for my students. Every time I put my jacket on, I hope to follow in his example and remember the lessons he has taught me. I feel grateful to be one of the many students Dr. Roche has supported and mentored, and I am excited to have the opportunity this year to be a mentor for my students that brings my best self to support them each day.
Hannah Booth is a City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member serving at Bakersville Elementary School
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