UC Riverside Lauded as Top Feeder School for City Year Program

A record-setting 50 UCR graduates will participate in the AmeriCorps program, the highest number of participants in the country

child at white board

A total of 50 UC Riverside have committed to serve with City Year for the 2013–14 academic year. The program is an education-focused, nonprofit organization that unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service to keep students in school and on track to graduation. Photo courtesy of City Year

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — An unprecedented 50 graduates of the University of California, Riverside have committed to serve as City Year corps members in the 2013-14 school year, the organization announced Monday. The total makes UCR the program’s top feeder school in the nation and breaks the previous record of 35, set by UCR grads in 2012.

City Year partners with schools and teachers to place 2,500 volunteers in 247 high-need schools across the country. Corps members work to keep young people in school and on track academically through in-class support, one-on-one and small group tutoring, mentoring and after school programs.

That UCR accounts for such a large percentage of volunteers should come as no surprise to those familiar with the campus’ tradition of undergraduate students participating in public service.

“Once again, our students have shown that they understand the importance of giving back to the people of their communities,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs James Sandoval said. “Having 50 of our students participate in City Year, and leading the nation in doing so, is a tremendous achievement, and it raises the bar for subsequent classes.”

City Year recruits its corps members from a highly competitive national applicant pool. Among incoming City Year members, 61 percent identified as a person of color or multi-ethnic, including 24 percent who identified as African American and 14 percent who identified as Latino. Eighty-four-percent are college graduates.  All City Year members can request their qualified student loans be put into forbearance during their term of service and upon completion corps members also receive an education award of $5,550 through AmeriCorps.

For Cortni Thomas, a 2013 graduate from UCR with a degree in English, her upcoming year of service with City Year in her hometown of Sacramento will allow her to make a difference right out of school.

“I felt as though City Year’s mission to reduce the high school dropout rate, is right along my lifetime goal to impact and illiteracy in urban impoverished areas,” she said. “So, I knew serving was right for me.”

Thomas said she hopes to get something out of the program as well.

“I am most excited for the impact the students will have on me. I hope I am able to make a difference in at least one student’s life, aiding in their success in core material as well as letting them know college is an attainable dream,” she said.

The 2012-12 City Year Corps Photo courtesy of City Year

The 2012–13 City Year Los Angeles Corps Photo courtesy of City Year

Gabriel Lopez, who graduated from UCR in 2010 with a degree in biological science and just completed his second year with City Year, said that living and serving in the Boyle Heights community was a challenge that pushed him out of his comfort zone, but also allowed him to break personal barriers. He was also surprised to see how much his students looked up to him, particularly one seventh grader who came to the school one day with a haircut that “shared a suspicious resemblance” to Lopez.

“After learning this lesson, I pushed myself to be the best version of myself so that they may find a positive role model in me,” he said.

With his two years behind him, Lopez will enter UCLA’s PRIME program, a five-year dual M.D. and master’s degree program at the David Geffen School of Medicine that trains empathetic, passionate  and community-oriented physician leaders. He said the opportunities afforded to him through the City Year Program will give him a unique perspective entering the program.

“This holistic perspective has proven invaluable during my service and will continue to help me to become more empathic in my future career,” he said.

Britney Lawrence, a 2012 UCR graduate who spent the 2012–13 school year at the Robert F. Kennedy Community School, enjoyed her City Year experience so much that she decided to come back and serve as a team leader in 2013–14.

“The experience of serving as a corps member was exhilarating and definitely worthwhile. I learned a lot this year and I look forward to sharing my experience with the incoming CYLA corps members,” she said. “In building relationships with my team members, my students, as well as those working at my partner school and throughout City Year Los Angeles, I gained a new understanding of the people and challenges that exist in the Los Angeles community I grew up in.”

Lawrence said that the best advice she can give to incoming City Year volunteers is to “remember that your City Year experience will be what you make of it.”

“It can be one of the hardest, most demanding, but rewarding times of your life, and you have the power to make it whatever you choose,” she added.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-4756
E-mail: john.warren@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

Erica Zilinskas, communications director, City Year
Tel: (213) 596-5903
E-mail: ezilinskas@cityyear.org

Bert Rivera, regional recruitment manager, City Year
Tel: (213) 265-1064
E-mail: nrivera@cityyear.org

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