Written by Marleah Singleton, former City Year AmeriCorps Member part of Sacramento’s founding corps. Marleah served at Fern Bacon Middle School in 2012. She now works at the Kristi House Child Advocacy Center in Miami and serves as the University of Miami City Year Recruitment Ambassador.

I had the privilege of serving my first corps year in Sacramento, California with an awesome founding corps. I was fresh out of college and ready to change the world yet simultaneously, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. The second I heard about City Year from a friend, I went on the website and started an application- literally, the same day. Initially, I was put on a waiting list but when they finally called I was so excited and said yes without hesitation.  

City Year changed everything. It is one of those eye opening, life altering, make-you-think-critically kind of experiences. It put a whole new lens on my perspective of the world and of people. Although some join City Year with the mindset that it’s “just a gap year”, many leave a new person with very worthwhile experiences. 

I learned so much from my corps year. I think I learned the most about myself- about how to process and reflect, to communicate effectively and how I work best to help others. I learned that being genuine will take you very far, especially when working with youth. I learned about Ubuntu, which means: “I am a person through other people. My humanity is tied to yours.” I learned how to listen and that telling people they matter can change their life. In addition to learning skills like how to lesson plan and organize, City Year teaches you how to work with people, even if they’re not your favorite. It teaches you that just because everyone deserves a chance, does not mean they get it. Once you learn this, in addition to feeling the urge to cry and yell at the same time, you realize that you’re being given a structural way to combat the failing education system from within it. You are making a difference. You are the change. 

Since City Year had such a huge and positive impact on my life, I can’t help but want to stay connected to them and their mission. I received a scholarship award from City Year to attend the University of Miami (UM) to pursue a master’s degree in Community & Social Change. Before I arrived, I was put in touch with the alumni network here in Miami and met some awesome people once I got here. I’ve been the University of Miami City Year Recruitment Ambassador since coming here and have learned a lot in my new role. I appreciate all the relationships I have built and connections I have been given because of this great organization. I would encourage everyone to stay connected and get involved, even after your year of service.

“The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi

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