Carnegie Mellon University
May 20, 2015

English Major To Join AmeriCorps Program, City Year

English Major To Join AmeriCorps Program, City Year

Bachelor of Arts in English (EBA) graduate Kyla Vick is passionate about finding a way to bridge the education gap in the U.S. Starting this summer, she’ll have the opportunity to help bridge this gap by mentoring and tutoring children in a low-income neighborhood through the AmeriCorps Program, City Year.

City Year works to “bridge the gap in high-poverty communities between the support that students actually need and what their schools are designed and resourced to provide.” The organization helps to increase graduation rates across the country and change the lives of students.

Vick will work with students with a high risk of dropping out of school. She applied to serve an area that most needed her help. She was placed in New Orleans.

“My job will be to provide one-on-one or group tutoring before, during, and after school,” said Vick. “Other recent college graduates and I will also be in charge of taking attendance, encouraging students to come to school, giving progress updates to parents of high-risk kids, and running service projects and afterschool clubs.”

Vick originally applied for a teaching position through Teach for America (TFA), but she wasn’t sure she wanted to take on a full-time teaching position for two years just yet. So, she started looking for other opportunities.

“The more research I did, the more I became passionate and excited about finding a way to bridge the devastating education gap here in the U.S.,” said Vick. “So, I did some digging for programs similar to TFA and found City Year to be an alternative that sounded just as rewarding and more group-oriented.”

Her courses “Topics in Rhetoric: Argument” with associate professor of English James Wynn and “Research in English” with professor of English Kristina Straub helped prepare Vick for her position with City Year.

In “Topics in Rhetoric: Argument”, Vick was required to create an original argument in a research paper.

“Surprisingly, that was really difficult for me to do because in high school I just needed to take a stance on a subject or just interpret a text,” said Vick. “Research in English required the same thing, but I had to incorporate an oral presentation of my findings. As a former bookworm and slight introvert, this was daunting, but extremely helpful for a few interviews I later had with City Year.”

Vick would eventually like to become an attorney. She recently made the decision to commit to the University of Illinois College of Law. But, she’s deferring for a year while she volunteers.

Vick said she first thought about becoming a lawyer when Marian Aguiar, associate professor of English, graded her first English paper.

“I remember in our individual conferences about the paper that she said, “Do you want to be an attorney? Because you write like a lawyer,” said Vick. “Looking back, she definitely planted the seed for my personal interest in possibly becoming an attorney.”

Vick said it was always easy to throw ideas around about her plans for the future and research projects with professor Straub, her advisor.

“Kyla combines the best qualities of an English major: a sharp attention to the details that less careful readers miss, a strong sense of why those details are important to the meaning of a text, and, most importantly, why and how that text matters to the people who read it,” said Straub. “These qualities will make her a great teacher and a great lawyer.”

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By: Amanda King