These past two months have been life changing. It is so amazing to watch the future generation: so energetic, curious, and especially determined to discover who they are and what the future has in store for them. They ask me questions about how I was as a kid in middle school, what high school and what college was like. Although it makes me feel incredibly old, I am so excited to share with them the story of my life, which I tend to refer to as my testimony. Throughout my life things did not always come easy and I experienced many changes: having a newborn sister during my senior year of high school and moving out of state to attend college. Nevertheless, these changes made me into a stronger person.
In the words of Maya Angelou, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” This quote reminds me of the positive reinforcement and inspiration that City Year corps members bring to Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts. As stated in the City Year service model, “as tutors, mentors and role models, corps members are uniquely able to help students and schools succeed through: academic support, attendance and positive behavior encouragement, and also community and school improvements.” Before City Year, I knew that I would dedicate a year working within Milwaukee Public Schools, but now that I serve I realize just how powerful of an impact and influence that I have on the students.
For example, this letter from a student I’ve been working with really made me pause:
Dear Ms. SeQuoia, I just want to let you know that you’re doing great with City Year. You’re really doing great helping kids stay on track. Particularly me, you’ve helped me by breaking the material down and helping me to control my anger. You’re really nice and calm. City Year is lucky to have you!
Although we don’t often receive friendly little reminders, this letter in particular reminded me (and continues to remind me) why I serve. I serve because I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and I am aware of many of the challenges that these students face. My experiences allow me to connect with the students and to be a powerful role model.
–Written by SeQuoia, City Year Milwaukee Corps Member