My name is Gabriela Kappes and I proudly serve on the Bain and Company team at P.S. 83 in East Harlem. My motivation is to make the world a more peaceful, just, and healthy place for future generations. Although it may seem trite, I believe that increased openness and cooperation between people of all walks of life would help substantially in solving our world’s problems.
I started my service with City Year to dedicate a year of my life to a cause much greater than myself. I have been actively involved in non-profit organizations most of my life, but didn’t feel like I had really fulfilled my love of volunteering at that point in my life. I also wanted to gain more insight on public policy issues surrounding education, specifically in an urban setting. While I definitely believe that this is an important and valuable program which makes a real difference in the lives of these students, I am frustrated by the lack of resources and opportunities for these kids, compared to the suburban school district I attended. The consolidation of public schools due to budget problems is further weakening the public education system in many urban districts, including New York City, forcing many children into long commutes to attend school.
City Year gave me the opportunity to really consider my life after City Year, or what we call here, LACY. Specifically they offered information sessions with graduate schools and also have partnerships with graduate school programs called Give-a-Year Partnerships. When I started City Year in August, I was certain that I was going to eventually go back to school to study public policy. However, after attending multiple information sessions and researching programs, I decided that city planning was what I really wanted to do. This year made me realize that I cannot sit behind a desk in a policy position petitioning people to change their mind. I have to be actively involved in the change, which city planning would allow me to do through field research and working in planning positions with non-profit partners. Although the field I plan on pursuing is neither education nor education policy, this year has definitely confirmed my interest in civic engagement.
Through pursuing graduate study at Rutgers University, I hope to develop skills that will allow me to make effective planning decisions through a community development lens. I feel a responsibility to help communities where I see problems and am deeply dedicated to the volunteer activities I pursue. Throughout these endeavors I seek to find solutions, even if they are only small solutions to part of a much bigger problem. I am motivated in these efforts by the belief that the difference individuals make in one place or to one person, can collectively create powerful change. I hope that I can continue to make a difference in my future career, and believe that graduate study at Rutgers Bloustein School will further this goal.