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Career Partner Spotlight: Taylor Rainier and Peace Corps

Taylor Rainier ‘04 • Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Mozambique 2006 – 2008)

by Alice Pak, Events & Alumni Project Leader, City Year New York.

Taylor Rainier was bitten by the travel bug early. As a self-described army brat, she says she ‘grew up everywhere' and moved every year or two; by the time she reached high school she had traveled most of Western Europe and was in Germany when the Berlin Wall came down.

She decided that after she graduated college, she wanted to be in the Peace Corps, but not quite yet. During her senior year Taylor's eyes were opened to inequalities when she started volunteering at a low-income elementary school. With this and service in mind, Taylor looked into a ‘domestic' Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and eventually found City Year. In 2003 she served in the founding corps of City Year New York, where she found herself growing rapidly both professionally and personally.

Taylor, far right, stands in a group including Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, at City Year New York's 2004 graduation.

"My City Year experience solidified that I wanted to be in education,” Taylor said, "and at the end of my time with CY, I was ready for the Peace Corps.” So in 2006, Taylor began her service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique, where she taught high school English as a second language. There she had classes of anywhere from 70-80 students, some classrooms with desks and some with nothing.

"It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” Taylor said. When things got particularly difficult, Taylor looked to what she calls her 'City Year backpack of skills.' "I was put in a mentor position, whether I wanted it or not, for my colleagues who taught English at the school in Mozambique,” she said. "It was on me to bring those tools and teach them, and City Year helped me a lot in that way – how to step up and take that leadership role, doing so with flexibility – just everything.”

Today, at 29 years old, Taylor looks back fondly on her childhood for "instilling the importance of travel,” and on both service experiences with gratitude for helping her navigate her way to her present career goal: she is getting her master's in Equity and Social Justice in Education at San Francisco State University in hopes of either counseling or teaching high school students in low-income neighborhoods. She also speaks with great certainty on how her corps experience made the latter a more complete one.

"In order to be a successful Peace Corps member, I think you definitely need to be really responsible and conscious of what you want to get into, and a City Year member at the end of their corps year is a responsible and conscious person,” she said. "You have that backpack of skills at the end of your [City Year] corps year that makes you an ideal Peace Corps member, which in turn makes you a more helpful citizen.”

To view the full profile of Taylor Rainier check out City Year New York's Blog here.

To view more Alumni Pathways, click here.