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How a year in service can propel a masters in public administration

From City Year to graduate studies

City Year alumnus Walker Moseley (City Year Miami ’11) served with City Year in Miami as a Senior AmeriCorps member and staff member for 4 years, and recently attended the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Master’s in Public Administration and graduate certificate in Organizational Coaching. Through City Year’s University Partnership with the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, Walker took advantage of the tuition scholarship provided exclusively to City Year alumni. Walker now works at the School of Education at Drexel University as the Program Manager of DragonsTeach Middle Years. Learn how Walker benefited from City Year both personally and professionally.

How did you first hear about City Year? What interested you about the City Year AmeriCorps member position?

While getting my undergraduate degree in sociology at North Carolina State University, I thought I would graduate and go straight to law school. During my senior year, I learned about AmeriCorps. The first push to give AmeriCorps a real look came from my mom. She explained that law school would still be there after a year of service if I still wanted to go that route afterwards, and my application would become more competitive with AmeriCorps experience under my belt. She also pointed out that I lacked real life work experience, and that taking a year to decide what comes next long-term would be wise. Boy, was she right.

While browsing the AmeriCorps website, I stumbled upon City Year and was immediately intrigued. My favorite volunteer experiences in college were the ones that involved working with kids, and I loved the idea of serving in a large cohort of peers in a city that was new to me.

What was the most challenging aspect of your service year?

The most challenging aspect of my service year was experiencing firsthand the stark inequalities that exist in our country. I was raised in a rural mountain town in North Carolina. There was one high school in my entire county. I read articles and knew statistics about the high school dropout rate, but never understood the many privileges that I benefited from simply because of the family and community that I was born into.

The first City Year school I served in is located in a community substantially different than the small town I call home. Over 90% of the students received free or reduced lunch. It’s one thing to read about education inequality in a text book and another to see it firsthand while working to address it on the front lines.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your experience serving with City Year?

I was lucky to work in the same neighborhood and feeder pattern all four of my years with CY Miami. I spent my first year in an elementary school, my second in a high school, and my third and fourth in a middle school. Many of the middle school students I worked with were the same students my first team served, and the impact City Year had on them was evident. Our former City Year students performed higher academically than their peers, had higher attendance rates, and got in trouble less. Seeing the hard work from my first year team paying off three years later was super encouraging.

The people you meet in City Year are incredible. Through City Year I have made numerous life-long friends and gained multiple mentors who have challenged my way of thinking and improved who I am. The organization draws incredibly talented people who genuinely want to make the world a better place for everyone.

Tell us about what you do now. What company do you work for and what role do you play there (if currently a student, what are you studying now)?

I currently work for the School of Education at Drexel University. I was part of a team that wrote a grant to launch a pilot program called DragonsTeach Middle Years. We recently learned that our program will be fully funded, earning a 1.25 million dollar grant. In short, DragonsTeach Middle Years is an undergraduate program geared toward training and certifying more middle school STEM teachers in Philadelphia. The program allows non-education majors to use free electives and a co-op (student internship) on education courses and experiences so that they graduate with both their chosen major and teaching certificate.

How has use of this partnership advanced your career?

I’ve built a network of social impact leaders and changemakers from across the country and world, and have been a part of projects that have changed policy and local landscapes. The Fels Institute of Government provided a new family, and new challenge, and the necessary skills to take my next step in becoming the leader I hope to be.

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