A few weeks ago, our Northeast Regional Recruitment Manager Emmanuel Paul Sterling had the opportunity to chat with Morehouse College senior and CYNY 2013-2014 corps member Xaundrae Tingling and his mentor and City Year Champion Morehouse College’s Associate Dean for Student Services Harry Wright, Jr.!
What does it mean to you to be able to serve with City Year in your hometown of New York City?
[XT] “It means everything to me to return for service in my hometown as a participant in the City Year program. Growing up, I participated in a number of different after-school programs such as the Boys Club Of New York and the Liberty Partnership Prize Program. I was a very shy adolescent. In these programs I was encouraged to be more independent; to speak up; to find my own voice and to speak up with my opinions. I have come full circle. To give back to kids from my hometown now is a great privilege.”
What is something you’ll take away from your relationship with Dean Wright that you’ll bring to the students you’ll be working with in New York City?
[XT] “The most important thing I will take away from Dean Wright is the nudge to find my own passion. Too many people go through life without finding that “thing” which brings them to life. Dean Wright always reminds me that finding one’s passion is one of the most important things an individual can do. Discovering one’s passion gives a person a sense of purpose and dedication in life. If I can help some of the kids to find their passion early on, perhaps that will give them the drive to succeed and rise above the situations they face.”
How has a Morehouse education prepared you for a year with City Year?
[XT] “Morehouse College places importance on producing graduates with social conscience. We are expected to seek positive change not only for ourselves but for the community as well. Morehouse boasts a legacy of distinctive alumni who have championed social change. Men like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Calvin Butts, and Michael Lomax just to name a few. This strong legacy has inspired me to now take my place in the community and in the lives of young people in my own way.”
When did you first learn about the importance of service?
[XT] “I was first introduced the importance of service when I joined the Boys Club of New York. It was then that I recognized that many of the kids who came as participants at clubhouses did not have a strong support system to help encourage them or give them direction. I witnessed first-hand how the men and women at the Boys Club functioned not only as role models for the kids, but also as a buffer between them and negative societal influences.”
How did you hear about City Year?
[HWJ] As a lifelong advocate for youth and alum 82’, I am proud to serve as Associate Dean for Student Services here at Morehouse College. In this capacity, it is my privilege to work not only with very gifted students, but alongside many skilled professions in the area of Student Affairs, including the Director of Career Planning and Placement. Over the years, working with students one on one to clarify their goals, then to chart the course toward those goals, I was introduced to the City Year program as one of several vital opportunities available through the AmeriCorps organization. While a number of our students have taken advantage of other AmeriCorps programs such as the Peace Corps and Teach for America, for example, I have not seen near the same buzz about the City Year program within the AUC (Atlanta University Center). Xaundrae will be somewhat of a trailblazer in taking on the challenge. I believe he is the right man for the job!
Why are students from Morehouse a great fit for City Year and other AmeriCorps programs?
[HWJ] Historically, Morehouse men have been groomed to be socially conscious, global citizens; men who are not only concerned with their own uplift and well-being but, that of the larger community, society and world around them. For students looking to take a break between college and graduate school or that permanent vocation, I recognize many shared values & common goals in the philosophy of AmeriCorps programs.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in serving with City Year?
[HWJ] I would advise any student interested in serving with City Year or any other related program to do your homework on program options. They come in different shapes and sizes. Read the fine print to be certain you identify the best fit for you! Be ready to serve. This is not the space to enjoy a year of leisure and pampering! Be honest with yourself regarding expectations and what you are looking for.
What’s are you hoping Xaundrae will get out of the program?
[HWJ] My hope for Xaundrae is that he will not only enjoy a year of service, giving back to his home community but, that he will also use the year as a time of discernment to gain clarity about his future vocation. Narrowing one’s goal, whatever it may be, is the first step toward setting the course ahead – graduate school, work, etc. etc. For Xaundrae and many new graduates, the world represents many question marks! The City Year experience can be an opportunity to not only give back but, to also get focused upon your own future agenda. Indeed, may it be so!