Who was your most influential role model growing up? I was asked this question recently in a Denver Public Schools training and, after serious thought, I was surprised that I drew a blank. I asked myself, “How can I not think of one inspirational person that has helped guide me through life?” Then it hit me. I looked around the room and saw the many faces of my fellow Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) AmeriCorps members and realized that these amazing people are my role models.
This is my second year serving in an AmeriCorps program and I am amazed each day by the passion and dedication that exudes from these individuals. Some AmeriCorps members switched careers to be a part of the FACE AmeriCorps program, some moved across the country, and others have now decided to make a career out of helping the families of Denver. How could I ask for better role models or more influential people to be around?
Through the last few months, I have become very close with my fellow AmeriCorps members and am very excited about the service that is being done throughout Denver Public Schools. The term of service is not easy and yet I rarely hear complaints. Instead, I see constant growth, challenge, and perseverance and it is inspiring, not only to me, but to the communities we serve each day. I see members succeed greatly in running programs that they created, planned, and implemented at their schools, despite having never planned a service project before. I see members having full conversations with families in Spanish that have never spoken the language in a formal setting before this experience. Also, I see members who are building strong relationships with students that have never served in a school setting prior to this year of service.
Getting comfortable is not a term that AmeriCorps members see very often throughout their terms of service. However, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity for continuous change. As a result of living outside of our comfort zones, we have each grown professionally and personally so much in just a short period of time.
Personally, I have grown in ways I never thought possible. Prior to being a part of the FACE AmeriCorps program, I struggled with believing in myself and my ability to succeed. However, I have become confident that I can do anything I set my mind to. I am close with most of my attendance caseload students and have built trust with them that I am proud of. I implemented a Contemporary Learning Academy (CLA) College Crew at my school in order to help high school juniors and seniors get ready for college. This includes researching scholarship opportunities, finding the best fit schools to apply to, writing personal statements, and filling out college applications. I put a great amount pride and passion into this project and am very pleased with how it is running.
The success of this project and support from my AmeriCorps teammates and FACE supervisors gave me the confidence to keep improving upon my ideas and led me to create my next service project, New Year New Beginnings: Embracing Diversity. A week will be dedicated to accepting diversity, increasing positivity, and fighting against bullying and hate that sometimes plagues communities. This project will not only be held at CLA, but at several schools throughout DPS and is a large undertaking. It involves collaboration with many staff members, community organizations, and students, as well as passion and enthusiasm; I am excited to see this project happen. This idea would not have been possible without the growth that I experienced this year through serving with supportive AmeriCorps members.
My term of service with AmeriCorps has changed my life and helped me grow tremendously both personally and professionally. I am so proud and honored to serve beside the FACE staff and AmeriCorps members that I have met this year. The passion and dedication that they carry is contagious and helps guide me through my term of service, helps me reach my potential, and helps me persevere through the challenges I face. I am grateful for the role models that I have found within the FACE AmeriCorps program and cannot wait to see the continued impact we make on our schools, students, and communities.
Alicia Mullings, AmeriCorps member