By: Kiara Wright

The bell rings, and students begin to disburse into the hallways of Lake International School. “Miss, will you be here when we get back?”  “Of course I will”, I reply as they step in for a hug. “Have a happy birthday and holidays, Miss Kiara…Love you!”

My Lake Middle School Team and me (top right)

Holiday photo of my team and me (top right)

There comes a point in one’s life when you begin to live selflessly. Trivial and senseless matters of the past no longer consume your energy. For the past six years of my life, I have been going through a complete transformation. When applying for City Year I had ABSOLUTELY no idea what I was getting myself into. I simply wanted to  help mold  the life of at least one child and feel a sense of accomplishment.  On December 16, 2011, the morning of my college graduation from Florida A&M University, I was informed that I had been accepted into the City Year program and would have to move 2,100 miles west to Denver.

Denver?! Denver?!  How am I going to tell my family and friends that I’ll be picking up everything I have, to devote my efforts to a year of service in a place I know nothing about and to children who may not even accept me as a method of assistance? Panic began to set in as I pondered the idea of such a dramatic change. For the next 3 months, I didn’t tell a soul.

I scrambled to find work in various fields simply as a method of acceptance and approval from others.  None of the work I found inspired me or held my heart the way working in education with youth in underprivileged communities did.

“You have a degree, a lot going for you…there’s no money in education!”  This was the commonly repeated phrase of many of my peers and role models as I informed them of my plans. “You’re making WHAT? And going WHERE?” they would say.

Passion is defined as an intense desire or enthusiasm for something. It was in the midst of all the disbelief and disapproval when I realized how overwhelming my passion for eliminating inequality in educational truly was.

Needless to say, I packed up my Honda and drove 27 hours west last summer. Six months after my move, I have never been as genuinely at peace with a decision in my life. It’s the point in your life when you realize that no matter how difficult things get, and no matter how many people tell you something isn’t worth your time, you realize that it is about more than the material things society coaxes many of us into believing are important. It’s about realizing that you never truly know the purpose of your presence in the lives of others or understanding that the impact may not be instant, but appreciating that consistency and persistence can make a world of difference.

My students are special and have become like my children. I have the opportunity to help mold them. They give me a sense of accomplishment as I encourage them to do their best. When they make mistakes they’re afraid to tell me, when they achieve great things they’re excited to tell me and when they hurt, I share their pain.

As we embark on a New Year, I challenge you to reflect on your past, understand your role in the present, and positively influence the youth of the future.


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