I was midway through my senior year at Humboldt State University when I realized that my post-graduate plans were, well, non-existent. I was about to graduate with a major in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Human Rights and Social Justice. This major, with classes ranging from the Sociology of Altruism and Compassion to Radical Political Thought, fueled my passion for questioning and discovering the world. It didn’t, however, steer me on the clearest career path. So, it was at this time that I made the intentional decision to do a volunteer year. Happily and gratefully, I found Good Shepherd Volunteers. I moved from a small northern California college town to New York City, a place I had never stepped foot in before. Needless to say, it was overwhelming and exhilarating.
I lived with two other Good Shepherd Volunteers in an apartment in Washington Heights. Living in an intentional community made the transition and my volunteer experience exponentially better. Having someone to share a homemade meal with or talk to on those harder days helped me so much. We became a family–dysfunctional some days, but always loving and supportive.
I was chosen to spearhead Aiming High, an after-school program for 6th and 7th grade students in the Bronx. The program, run by Good Shepherd Services (GSS), supports school engagement and fosters personal identity and self-efficacy through internships, workshops, and service learning projects. I had never worked so closely with young people and it was incredibly powerful to see how, when given the space to lead and be powerful, young people are capable of so much change. My experience with Aiming High drastically shifted my own perspective on where/how change occurs. Education is at the core of empowerment. As the end of my volunteer year approached I realized there was so much more I wanted to learn from young people. Moreover, I was deeply connected to GSS and its youth development principles, which focus on the strength and the value of every young person.
I currently work for Good Shepherd Services as an Advocate Counselor at Brooklyn Frontiers High School, a public high school that serves students who have been held back at least twice in elementary and/or middle school. Our incredible staff works to provide a safe and supportive community where young people feel that, regardless of their past experiences in school, they can succeed academically
I am so grateful for GSV and its long term impact on me. It brought me to an amazing city, connected me with like-minded individuals who care about social justice, challenged my wants versus my needs by living simply, and connected me to a career that makes me feel alive and a part of something bigger than myself. I have happily made Brooklyn home and I am so proud to be an alumna for Good Shepherd Volunteers.