In August, Lindsay Kent ’14 headed to New York City to begin working with AmeriCorps as a Blue Engine Teaching Assistant (BETA). The Blue Engine program works with five public high schools that serve low-income communities to prepare students for post-secondary success after they graduate from high school.
“I decided to participate in AmeriCorps because I wanted to utilize the skills I learned at HWS in a good and positive way,” says Kent, who majored in sociology. “AmeriCorps allows me to experience deep, structural issues in our country on a firsthand basis and gives me the opportunity to make a difference in a student’s life.”
Kent underwent training for Blue Engine and will continue working through the 2014-2015 school year. As a BETA, she is collaborating with teachers in the classroom to break down the class into small focus groups. Kent says small group work gives students of all academic levels personalized instruction, and that it “encourages them to feel more comfortable asking questions and participating.” She also provides extended-learning time after school to give students additional instruction and support.
At HWS, Kent was a member of the William Smith soccer program, a teaching assistant and a teaching fellow for the Sociology Department. It’s her experiences at HWS that Kent believes prepared her to be a successful member of AmeriCorps and to leave a lasting impact on her student’s lives.
“Sociology has given me the tools to have an open but critical mind, and has shown me that I need to leave a positive impact on the world,” Kent says. “If we sit idly by, we allow these inequalities to continue.”
Kent participated in HWS’ Days of Service every year, held service learning projects in the community, and volunteered her time whenever she was available. The Colleges, Kent says, “are instrumental in instilling a community-oriented perspective in each of us.”
Her experience as a teaching assistant and teaching fellow provided her the skills necessary to work with students of all levels and abilities in a flexible and dynamic manner, and provided her with the opportunity to be a liaison between students and professors.
“I am incredibly grateful for these opportunities as well as my academic experiences at HWS,” says Kent, “They gave me the tools to succeed in my life, especially with Blue Engine.”
After she finishes her year with Blue Engine, Kent plans to attend graduate school to study sociology, urban studies or social work. She would also like to pursue a career in an educational non-profit organization.
“AmeriCorps is giving me firsthand experience in schools that need the most help,” she says. “This experience is opening my eyes to the work that needs to be done to truly help those in need.”
Each year, AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 people in intensive service at more than 15,000 locations across the country, including nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups. Members help communities tackle problems while mobilizing volunteers for the organizations they serve.
AmeriCorps members gain valuable professional, educational, and life benefits, and the experience has a lasting impact on the members and the communities they serve. AmeriCorps consists of three main programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).