Many of my classmates decided to pursue their dreams right after obtaining their undergraduate degrees, but I chose to take a service year before medical school. A friend introduced me to a program called City Year. After meeting with a recruiter and carefully researching the program myself, I decided to apply. Little did I know that this would be the hardest, most life-changing year of my life.
City Year is a non-profit organization that focuses on mentoring and tutoring students in under-resourced communities. This program was created by two Harvard Law School roommates, Michael Brown and Alan Khazei, with the goal of spreading service to empower the younger generations. As the program expanded to 28 cities across the United States, City Year became more focused on helping students matriculate to tenth grade on-track and on-time because then students are 75 percent more likely to graduate on time. City Year uses three metrics called the ABCs (poor attendance, disruptive behavior, and course failure) which are factors that often prevent students from being academically successful.
During his presidency, President Clinton created the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993 to form AmeriCorps. City Year is one of the non-profit organizations that is a part of AmeriCorps. Through the federal government, volunteers are paid a stipend biweekly and receive the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award upon successful completion of the service year.
In order to apply you must be between 18-24 years old and have at least a high school diploma or a GED. It is a one to two year commitment and you must complete 1700 service hours in 10 months. There are multiple opportunities throughout the year to apply. The application process consists of a general application including essays and references. If selected, an applicant is invited for a phone or in-person interview with a staff member from the designated site.
My colleagues come from all walks of life. One of my co-workers was homeless for a period of time during her undergraduate career, yet found a way to graduate and persevere. Another went to Bolivia and ended up being flown home after riding a motorcycle, spiraling out of control, and breaking her leg. Five of my co-workers were graduates of Columbus City Schools and decided to come back after completing their undergraduate degrees to serve their communities. Surrounding myself with people who have life experiences so very unique from mine has allowed me to reflect and grow in ways I could never imagine.
Leadership after City Year (LACY) is a network AmeriCorps members have access to throughout the service year and beyond. My co-workers are future social workers, doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, teachers, and change makers bonded together by our experiences together during our service year. Throughout the year, there are opportunities for mentorship sessions and leadership development. I have had the privilege to meet public health directors, student advocacy groups, government officials, superintendents, and more! I am so thankful to City Year for allowing me the opportunities to expand my network.
If you are interested in applying to this program, please visit City Year.
Disclaimer: All thoughts are my own. City Year does not endorse this content.
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If you have any questions regarding City Year or AmeriCorps opportunities, please feel free to contact me: