Brandeis Alumni: Giving a Year, Changing the World
Aug. 01, 2011
Partnering with City Year for recruiting opportunities was a natural fit for Brandeis to help foster the school's strong focus on social justice and community service initiatives. For the last three years, the Hiatt Career Center has teamed up with City Year representatives to provide recruiting and networking opportunities for Brandeis students, and the relationship only continues to grow. In fact, 7 Brandeis '10 graduates accepted corps positions last year, in cities from Boston to San Jose.
City Year participates in a number of on-campus events throughout the year, including careers fairs and forums, office hours, mock interviews, and brown bag information sessions. Through their participation in these events, City Year has recognized Brandeis students as a talented pool of potential corps members. Read about the experiences of two Brandeis alumni below to see if City Year is right for you.
Why I Serve – Erica Navalance '10
Service is in the fabric of Brandeis University and the why behind that is apparent. Service, like education, creates opportunities for people to become better. After graduating from Brandeis in May 2010, I wanted to dedicate myself to service, so I applied to City Year. I currently work as a Corps Member at City Year Boston, proudly serving at the Neighborhood House Charter School (NHCS) in Dorchester, MA. Last year, while looking forward to law school applications, essays, and the LSAT, I realized how genuinely privileged I have been throughout my life. It dawned on me that I got to where I am now because of all of the amazing people that have pushed me and supported me the entire way. As I acknowledged how many opportunities I had, it struck me that not everybody is nearly as fortunate and I wanted to make sure I contributed to at least one child’s life in a positive way. City Year was the perfect opportunity for me to be that positive influence for a young child, merging academic support and building mentoring relationships with children. To me, mentoring and being a positive role model provide just as much to a child’s education and future as math and vocabulary skills.
Through City Year, I hope to gain an understanding of what it truly means to help someone for no benefit of my own, other than celebrating another person’s successes. I strive to develop a broader understanding of the injustices people face so that I may continue to work towards fighting those injustices for the rest of my life. Most importantly though, I know I will truly make a difference in at least one child’s life, whether it be through helping them understand the importance of education so they graduate from high school or becoming someone they feel they can talk to when they have no one else. I want to become that voice in their head telling them to do right when others tell them to do wrong; I want to know that I have made someone else’s life better by being in it; I want to be the change I wish to see in our society.
I serve because the people in my life, at Brandeis and at City Year, have empowered me to give a year and change the world. I intend to do so.
Never Doubt – Riko Bol '09
I have always believed in the power of the youth. Age is nothing but a number; while young people represent the future, it does not mean that they cannot create positive change now.
At City Year, I transformed my beliefs into a vehicle of idealism and set out to change the world through the power of youth. Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." At City Year, I have found that small group of committed citizens – however, we need more.
Back for a second year of service, I am stronger and wiser than ever before. To some, such a statement seems nonsensical, but I believe it to be true. Last year as a corps member, I ran the City Heroes Program - a service-learning program that engaged 110 high school students from all over Boston in social justice issues by not only discussing them, but also acting upon them through service projects. Through this program, I was transformed. I learned more from our high school aged City Heroes than I ever have from a book or a course. Young people today have a voice so great and so powerful. Their ideas surpass our beliefs; their thoughts belie maturity beyond their years; and their actions inspire me to be better than I think I can be. Unfortunately, our society often focuses on the negative aspects of youth, overlooking their insightful thoughts and outstanding potential.
I had the privilege to connect to 110 outstanding high school students through the City Heroes Program. I have seen firsthand how youth can exceed the expectations adults have of them when they have a positive role model encouraging them and giving them the opportunity to make a difference. They have a voice, a voice that needs to be heard. I served as an outlet for their voice just as City Year served as an outlet for my voice. Now, as a Senior Corps Member at City Year Boston, I serve as a Project Leader in the Recruitment Department, using my voice to find others who wish to dedicate ten months to keeping the children of Boston in school and on-track to graduate from high school. At Brandeis, I was encouraged to never doubt my abilities to be a source of inspiration for those around me; at City Year, I get to serve alongside other committed citizens who strive to make a difference. Join us.
About City Year
City Year is a national nonprofit organization that is a part of AmeriCorps. It is a community-oriented service organization that provides diverse individuals between the ages of 17 to 24 years old the opportunity to give a year of full-time service working in inner-city schools as mentors, tutors, and role models. City Year is currently focusing on addressing the nation’s high school dropout rate, which is growing at an alarming rate. City Year gives corps members, like Erica and Riko, the skills necessary to make positive changes in the lives of today’s youth, empowering young people to address social justice issues that affect them on a daily basis. To find out more about City Year and complete an application, visit www.cityyear.org.