May 12, 2013: the day my life changed forever. As set I forth and headed toward Washington, DC, I did not know what I was getting myself into. I had one thing on my mind – City Year. My decision to leave Florida and move to Washington, DC was a decision for which I will forever be grateful. I left Florida knowing that I would not have any financial support, but I was determined to #makebetterhappen. I went from sleeping in my car to knowing that at the end of my service year, my struggle would be worth every tear I cried.
As a first-generation college student, I know firsthand the importance of education – education saved my life. Education has the power to help every child reach his or her potential. City Year plays a vital role in the lives of students by placing corps members in schools to serve as tutors and mentors. Working with 8th graders at my school thus far has been a difficult task. There are so many obstacles our students have to overcome, but their perseverance has taught our team about never giving up.
There are days when you feel defeated, but our students willingness to come back to school the next day and try again gives us the motivation we need to continue focusing on attendance, behavior and course performance. When it comes to making an impact in the lives of the students and communities we serve, there’s a sense of discipline, purpose and pride that goes forth in making sure our students know that we have their backs to the end.
At the beginning of the year, most of our 8th graders were not receptive to City Year. Over the months, my teammates and I broke down those barriers. I now catch students researching City Year instead of doing their work online! This experience has taught us that in life everything comes with time. We may not be able to control what goes on outside of school, but inside of school, students know that they can always count on City Year to provide the missing piece to their puzzle.
Tivia Rouland, author, is a corps member serving on the Northrop Grumman Foundation Team at Kramer Middle School.