What I’ve Gained in my Service Year
Chynna serves at the Helps Education Fund in Raleigh, NC. The Helps Education Fund connects research with practice and engages teachers, parents, and volunteers to improve student learning.
I first learned about North Carolina Literacy Corps and AmeriCorps through the founder of Helps Education Fund. I was in a panic, for a lack of better words, because of my impending graduation from NC State. I was not ready for graduate school yet. I was still unsure of exactly what I wanted to do. A service year seemed like the perfect fit for a gap year between undergraduate and graduate school.
Last August, I began my service year a bit overwhelmed. I was faced with financial stress, learning a new position and attempting to get my bearings post grad. Looking back from that time so long ago, I can reflect on what I’ve gained since when I first began my service year.
- Time Management: I cannot emphasize how important learning how to manage your time will be in your service year. During your service year you have to keep up with your work responsibilities (which can be a lot day to day!), a possible part time job, self care and a social life!
- Professional Development: NCLC gives us access to a lot of webinars. We also attended Let’s Talk Racism Conference. We were able to engage in discussions about the school to prison pipeline, importance of PTAs and diversity in the school system.
- A Sense of Purpose: I cannot put into my words how seeing growth in my students has impacted me. I work with over a hundred students and the amount of growth they’ve made in their reading is amazing! Knowing that I helped facilitate their academic growth is so rewarding.
- Additional Skills: I hated public speaking in college. I dreaded class presentations. Now, I do volunteer and teacher trainings all the time. I had never worked with lots of people, now I can problem solve and try to make the best of any situation. I have improved my communication- whether that be with students, peers or supervisors.
This year has been a valuable experience. I would recommend doing a service year to anyone that is unsure of what their next step might be. I am confident that my experience this year only made me a better candidate for graduate school and any future jobs. I can’t wait to see where life after AmeriCorps takes me!