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Reflecting on a year of service: Sophia Torres

For some AmeriCorps members, starting their journey with City Year can sometimes feel like an uncertain and unpredictable experience. Sophia Torres, who just completed her first year of service at Jefferson High School and will be returning for a second year, shares her insight and reflections on joining and completing her first year of service with City Year Los Angeles.

Sophia and her cousin Athena, the senior marketing and communications manager for City Year Los Angeles

“I didn’t join City Year with any expectations. My cousin sent me the application to City Year, so I applied and got an interview the next day. The following day, I was offered a position that I had to accept in less than 24 hours.

In a meeting with the Executive Director, Dr. Sandra Cano, I mentioned that I needed a change from working retail; I wanted to do something that felt worthwhile.

All I knew about joining City Year was that I would be supporting a school in my hometown of LA. I was excited to work with little kids, perhaps in elementary school, nourishing their young minds, teaching them kindness, math, English and maybe some life skills. But to my surprise I was assigned to work in a high school. This terrified me because I wasn’t sure how I would connect with older students. How would I earn their trust and respect? I knew I’d make the best of whatever situation came with this job, but I didn’t expect to love it so much . . . or to be doing a second year.

I started my first day at Jefferson High School without expectations and drove home thinking, ‘That is not how I thought that would go.’ Turns out this would be a daily occurrence. Serving at Jefferson High School, I spent time supporting students with math, English and managing emotions, but I never expected to grow so attached to my students.

City Year is so impactful because we serve in neighborhoods where no one expects greatness to bloom, which is crazy because I look at my students and cannot wait to see how their talents will grow. Many corps members come from the schools and neighborhoods that we serve in. In fact, my family comes from the very community I serve in, which is why serving in Los Angeles means so much to me.

Sophia and her family at her grandparents home in South Central, Los Angeles.

My mother and her eight siblings (raised by two Mexican immigrants) grew up in South Central, and because of that people did not anticipate their success. I don’t know if any corps member knew what this year of service would be like, but if their experience was anything like mine, this unexpected journey was well worth the time.”

This blog was written by Sophia Torres, City Year Los Angeles AmeriCorps member serving at Jefferson High School.

The 2022-23 AmeriCorps team serving at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles

Sometimes a life-changing experience is needed to re-evaluate our mundane routines. If you or someone you know is interested in a year of service, click here for more information.

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