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Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Ramirez

Meet Jessica RamirezMeet City Year New Orleans alum Jessica Ramirez! Jessica served as an AmeriCorps member at the Baptist Community Ministries team at Success Prep at Thurgood Marshall during the 2022-2023 school year. Here is a story of Jessica reflecting on one of her students.

Francisco was an 8th grader who shined with potential from the day I met him, but almost never completed his classwork or homework assignments. After a few weeks of getting to know him in my English Language Learners intervention group, I became concerned at his lack of motivation. Francisco is a smart kid, but his GPA was .83, the equivalent of an F. I knew that he could do great things, he just needed a push.

I decided to create incentives to encourage him to do his work—if he completed his homework for 10 days in a row, he would receive a small reward. It took him a little while to reach the first 10-day benchmark, but once he did and got his first reward he continued to do his homework. As the year went on, Francisco became comfortable being himself around me and confiding in me as a mentor. During our daily check-in-check-outs I learned the best ways to encourage him to meet not only his academic but behavior goals every day.

By midway through the school year, Francisco went from never doing his work to being the first English Language Learner student in the class to consistently finish his work on a daily basis. He also decided to take chances he would never have taken before, such as running for governor of his social studies class. Not only did his confidence grow, but so too did his grade point average. Between August and April Francisco’s GPA increased by 1.5 points, the equivalent of going from an F to a C+.

I joined City Year to be for my students the person I needed when I was in school: someone reliable and encouraging who wouldn’t judge me for being myself. When reflecting on my year of service and what I did for Francisco and many other students, I feel like I accomplished what I came to do. City Year not only gave me the chance to achieve this goal, but it developed my leadership skills and expanded my professional network. Recently I made the decision to pursue a career as a social worker and continue making positive change in the lives of children.

The name of the student in this post was changed to protect their identity.

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