written by Emily T. Callahan, City Year San Antonio corps member ’11-‘12
Prior to moving to San Antonio and beginning my journey with City Year, I determined my dream was to work with college students and I wanted to pursue a Master’s degree in Higher Education. However, when I applied to graduate programs my senior year of college, I was not accepted into any programs. Going through the application process a second time with no guarantee of success was a daunting task, so I decided I would re-evaluate in a few months to see if this was still what I wanted to do. I will always remember when one of my students received an opportunity to participate in a leadership conference in Washington D.C. and single-handedly raised the $2,000 he needed to be able to attend. I thought to myself, “Wow, if this 11-year-old child is so passionately pursuing his dreams despite his lack of resources, then what is stopping me?”
When I reapplied for graduate programs, I did so with an open mind— after moving from Rhode Island to Texas, I was much more comfortable with relocating. I ultimately received offers to attend six institutions, including my first choice school. However, during a program “preview day,” I absolutely fell in love with Loyola University in Chicago. The mission of the Higher Education program—and the university as a whole— is based around social justice, something that is so well-aligned with City Year’s work.
My situation continued to improve when I was offered a graduate assistant job in Loyola’s office of Student Activities & Greek Affairs. My supervisor has since shared with me that my City Year experience was one of the biggest reasons I was hired. She told me that while my leadership experience from college was pretty well matched by other candidates, my year with City Year distinguished me. Plus, it made me laugh a little bit when I was asked if I would be okay with the job’s requirement for some hours that fall outside of 9-5!
I have completed my first year and am halfway to earning my Master’s! I absolutely love my job and am so pleased that I made the choice to reapply to graduate programs. I’ve met some incredible people, both peers and professionals, and am slightly obsessed with living in Chicago. I even got to spread my love of service by leading a group of students on an alternative spring break trip to Kentucky!
Currently, I am completing a summer internship with Temple University’s Fraternity and Sorority Life and will be leaving in a week to take a summer course at Loyola’s Rome campus. I will return to Chicago after that and resume my job and classes, in addition to interning with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Study Abroad office. After this year, I (obviously) will be job searching and would ideally love to work full-time in student activities.
Despite the job and internship experiences that are directly pertinent to my field, I still always find myself talking about what I learned through City Year, and I fully believe it will continue. I cannot properly express my gratitude for the opportunities that have come to me as a result of completing City Year!