Letter to the Editor: UCR Alumna Gives Back to Her Community

I strongly believe that no student should be excluded from attending a college or university 一 every student should be given the chance to reach their dreams and goals. I am a first generation college graduate in my family and I didn’t have anyone to show me how to get to college. Not because my family didn’t want to, but because they didn’t know how to. When I got there, I was afraid to ask questions, afraid of rejection and most of all afraid of failure. Getting through school has been my toughest journey so far because I felt like I was facing all of my challenges alone. I struggled to fit in, understand and be involved in my school. I made a lot of mistakes, and at the time didn’t realize that I was not the only one. There were plenty of other students fighting my same battles. After four years of investing time, sweat and tears in my education, I received my BA in Chicano Studies this past June.

Because I believe that every student should be given the same opportunity and support towards a better education, I joined City Year. City Year is an education organization fueled by national service. We partner with public schools in high-poverty urban communities to help students graduate from high school ready for college and career success. Teams of diverse AmeriCorps members serve full-time in schools, where they directly support academic achievement and student engagement 一 in and out of the classroom.

I chose to serve in Los Angeles to give back to my community and work against the educational inequality in the public school system there. A lack of resources has resulted in students not developing helpful study habits and having little to no interest in their education. Many students have fallen behind and are not performing at their correct grade level, which discourages them from applying to college. Some students need more help than others. Fortunately, City Year allows me to invest time and dedicate more attention to those students who need it most. My team and I encourage every student to try their best and remind them that they can do it. City Year’s presence in the middle school I serve makes students feel safe and most of all that they matter.

Now I get to help students like me and take their fear of the unknown away from them. I help students gain confidence in the classroom and talk to them about how to get to college. Simply giving students the support they need to not feel afraid of facing challenges they are not used to and encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones is well worth the hard work.

City Year has also given me many opportunities to develop my professional skills. Over the past couple of months of my service I’ve seen growth and development in my time management and leadership skills. As a City Year AmeriCorps member, there are always lots of things going on at once, but the key is to not overwhelm myself. I have gained confidence and the tools needed to lead a group and organize events. This has always been one of my biggest fears, but I learned that mistakes are okay because they are part of the process to success. Collaborating with teachers is helping me to better my skills every day and in turn puts me in a position to better help my students. Working with a very diverse team has really opened my eyes and shown me what is outside of my own world.

The last two months have been amazing and I have seen such a big positive change in myself. I want to be the best I can be to students and hope to make the difference in the lives of others. This is why I chose City Year.

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