Ulysses Ifill, Torch 1 Alum
After graduating from Northeastern in 2010, I moved back home to Brooklyn, New York and joined City Year, a national non-profit that partners with local public schools to help students who are at risk of dropping out. I wanted to join City Year after reflecting on three different service related programs I participated in while I was doing my undergraduate degree. I first traveled to Ghana, West Africa, in the summer of 2009 to study Ghanaian relations in the African Diaspora. Immediately following that summer, I traveled to India for a Global Corps Practicum focusing on International Human Development and non-profit development through capacity building. My last voyages took place in the Dominican Republic and Belize. In both countries, I analyzed the social impact of two microfinance organizations and co-developed a project to help their organization better serve clients. So much of my focus had been on international development, working to solve the social issues abroad. I eventually came to the realization that those same problems exist in my back door. So, in an effort to change that, I searched for a service program that would allow me to continue serving others and invest in our youth so that they can become active leaders of change
Currently, I work at P.S. 149, a school located in East New York, Brooklyn; an area of Brooklyn known for its low graduation rates, poverty and violence. Every day I work with students who are struggling with attendance, behavior and course performance in English and math. I provide in-class support to a special needs 5th grade class where I answer students questions, support my teacher, deliver lessons, help kids who need extra attention as well as build confidence in my more shy, timid and uncertain students. I also work with six additional students who are struggling in literacy and math. For those six students, I do one-one-one and small group tutoring throughout the day to help boost the skills that they are lacking and give them much needed individual attention. Some of my students even look forward to the individualized attention I am able to give! This form of support can foster a new found confidence/honor in the student’s work where they cannot wait to answer a question on a topic. Once they get it right, they look back in my direction for approval. I proudly respond, “Good Job”!
After school I help run an after-school program for 5th graders focusing on becoming active members of the community. My favorite lesson so far is the “Needs & Wants” where we brainstorm several different causes that the students could donate to and support over the course of the year.
So far I have already served 955 hours of service. I only have four months left before I complete my year of service with City Year and I want to leave knowing I have affected my students lives in some way. I will continue to help my students develop academically, socially and professionally and will leave my students to be ready to be successful next year and beyond. I will continue to learn from this experience and have a powerful impact in the community!