A Lifetime Commitment
When I arrived in New York City at age 11 from the Dominican Republic, it was very clear to me what my responsibilities would be. Get good grades, get into college, be a doctor.
I attended a Catholic all-girls high school in Jamaica, Queens and my parents were thrilled I would be focusing all my attention on schoolwork. I had to let my parents down pretty early on: there was no chance I could be a doctor if I couldn’t pass freshman Biology.
One of the requirements at my high school was service. Like most of my classmates, I groaned at this massive inconvenience. After much complaining, I discovered that there were hundreds of ways I could serve my community. That I could enjoy helping someone in need. That I, surprisingly, had skills I could put to some use. It wasn’t going to be through medicine, but I would learn how to serve my community with the talents I did have.
I went to a Jesuit university in Washington, D.C. where I learned about civic responsibility. Seeing other communities struggle and tackle injustices gave me perspective. I knew that I wanted to bring what I had learned back to the city that raised me.
I’m currently an NYC Civic Corps member which has allowed me to give back to the city that has given me so much. New York City has always made me feel like an insider. Service, whether it’s helping a neighbor or being a public servant, is engrained in the fiber of this city.
Service is something you do for others but I honestly feel I’ve gained as much or more by experiencing it. It’s no longer something I do, but something I live. Wherever I choose to go from here, I will carry that mentality in my pocket.
You can teach a dance class or you can clean up a park. Whatever your BLANK is, I encourage you to make it a part of your lifestyle.