Posse, City Year and Loyola University Chicago Law School have one thing in common: the mission to prepare individuals to become responsible leaders within their community. Hear from alum Nana Otutua-Amoah.
How did you become interested in City Year? What led you to apply?
I found out about City Year through a Posse Foundation networking event during my final year at DePauw University. I decided to apply after talking with Stephanie Chavez (who is now the Managing Director of Recruitment & Admissions for City Year’s midwest region) about City year’s service in Chicago Public Schools.
During my time as a Posse Scholar, I was involved with various youth organizations as a tutor, mentor and teacher. I volunteered because, prior to college, I had many mentors who supported me throughout elementary and high school. As a first generation student in the U.S., I depended on my mentors to help me exceed academically. Their support was pivotal to my success and I was determined to help others in a similar way.
Where did you serve and what was the most rewarding experience during your year of service?
I served with City Year Chicago from 2010 through 2012. Transitioning into City Year was an exciting journey for me because I immediately felt a sense of community. Because of my experience as a Posse Scholar, I knew how to work in a team-oriented environment. Although my year of service was challenging, it was also very rewarding because of the team that I worked with and all that we accomplished. My team became my family–we were supportive of each in other in regards to our service and career plans.
During my first year, I served in the North Lawndale community at Manley Career Academy High School. The most rewarding experience during my first year of service was being able to see the final effort of my students as they improved their grades over the semester.
I served my second year on the Civic Engagement team as a Recruitment Project Leader. I had the opportunity to see a full transformation of all of the projects we led. Also, I had the unique experience of being a part of the recruitment team and presenting City Year to community partners and schools about City Year
What is your current profession and what do you enjoy most about your role?
I currently work as a Business Immigration Paralegal and what I enjoyed most about my role is communicating with my clients. In fact, communicating effectively is one of the most important skills in my role–I use it in every aspect of my profession: when working with clients, attorneys and other co-workers. I was able to enhance this skill because of the many leadership opportunities and professional development workshops during my time with City Year.
In what other ways do you feel City Year strengthened your career/professional growth?
Because I work work with different clients and attorneys,I to constantly have to manage expectations on both sides. As a corps member,I received a lot of hands-on experience managing expectations and working with people who have different working styles, including students, community partners, teachers and school administrations while I was a corps member.
Another way that City Year impacted my professional growth was learning to be flexible and always ready to act upon ideas. Currently, as a paralegal, I always have to expect the unexpected; I never know the direction each case will take.
In Fall 2015, I will be attending Loyola University Chicago Law School as a J.D. candidate. Receiving a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree is one of the few degrees that can be used as a service mechanism to make effective changes within my community. With a J.D., I will be able to serve in various decision-making positions that would affect youth and also continue to work directly with them.
What advice would you give to a young person considering joining City Year?
City Year stands out amongst other service programs for me because of the strategic planning and care that the staff provides for the corps members. If you are considering joining City Year, you’ll have the opportunity to transform and grow into a person with transferable skills. The experience you’ll gain will make you stand out among your peers and prepare you for any career (no matter what it is).
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