give a year Partnerships: Incorporating Service into Higher Education

Today’s guest blogger is Emily Mulkerne, Corps Member on the P.S. 75X Citizens Team, serving in the South Bronx.NYU2

During Thanksgiving Break in 2011, I was up early in the morning looking at graduate school programs. I was in my senior year of college, and I really needed to get a move on with my applications. I had decided early on in my college career to pursue a degree in social work, and my dream school was the New York University Silver School of Social Work. All I wanted was to get into that program and live in New York City. While I was checking out their scholarship programs, I noticed something called the “give a year” partnership. The “give a year” partnership scholarship was for students who completed a year of service through City Year and were awarded for their dedication to social and educational development. I hadn’t heard of City Year, but I figured that it was worth checking out. I typed “City Year” into Google and found out this organization was dedicated to changing the lives of students. I spent an hour researching the program and found that it was a good fit for me. Their next application was due on February 15, so I had time. That night, I began my journey to City Year.

In March of 2012, I found out I was accepted to City Year New York. This was a dream come true for me; I had always wanted to live in New York City, and now I had a reason to move. When I found out, I decided to take a year off from school and work for City Year. It was worth it for me to gain further work experience before deciding on a graduate school. This seemed like a good move for me. I accepted the job and started working for City Year that fall.

City Year is a job that challenges you to “make better happen”. Every day, we work with students who need a support system to get through school. These students are unique individuals who need the extra push in the right direction. My time at City Year has made me realize that I am cut out for a career in social work – I am faced with social issues everyday, and how I have handled situations and carried myself through this process has confirmed for me that I should pursue this field. I began an application to NYU and got myself back on track for graduate school.

When it came time to write a personal statement, I found that my City Year experience had given me a lot to write about. At City Year, a corps member can foster many skills – communication, crisis management, flexibility, quick thinking, and task management, just to name a few. There is so much that is offered in the City Year experience, and all of it can benefit someone who plans on pursuing graduate education. With all of this experience behind me, my graduate school applications were a breeze. In February of this year, I was accepted to the NYU Silver School of Social Work program. This moment is something I will always remember – getting into my #1 choice for graduate work. Honestly, I couldn’t have done it without City Year. In this job, I have gained so much experience that will help me in every job I hold after. Thanks to City Year and the “give a year” partnerships, I am able to go to a top school and receive a degree in the field I care about most. When looking for something to do after high school or college, push yourself in the direction that will lead you to great things. You won’t regret it.