By LaRonda Doakes

I received an envelope in October informing me that I was accepted into City Year Washington, DC. In the package was information about something we like to callinspirational standards. These inspirational standards govern the “do’s and don’ts” while in City Year uniform and/or on City Year time. These standards include no gum chewing, no jay walking and no foul language.

At first these seemed like an inconvenience or a way of changing me to fit the brand, but as time went on I realized it’s much more than that. It is the idea of community, that someone can see a red jacket in DC and in New Orleans and immediately recognize both individuals as change agents. When I walk out my door with my red jacket on I am more than LaRonda Doakes, I am an opportunity. An opportunity to recruit a new member to City Year, a new sponsor or just spread the word that young people do care about the current state of our education system and are actively working to change it.

When I realized this I no longer felt inconvenienced by the brand that is City Year; instead, I felt as though I was and am continuing to become a better person because of it. What began as me following the inspirational standards out of respect for my job turned into me following them for me. These standards have become my steps toward building a better me, and, if for no other reason, this is what sets City Year’s brand apart from others. This brand is not just a brand. It’s a lifestyle, and one that I plan on living out long past my service year.

LaRonda_DoakesLaRonda Doakes is a corps member serving at Kelly Miller Middle School, sponsored by United Way of the National Capital Area.

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