If you are reading this and you’re a recent graduate from college, someone wanting to engage in service, or simply searching for a life of meaning, this blog post is for you. Before becoming a College and Career Ambassador (CCA) for Promise Corps, I had been reflecting on where I wanted to go since I had graduated from Swarthmore College with a Major in Neuroscience. I’ve since come to realize that I crave meaning, purpose, and connection with others, and that this could only be satisfied if I could make a direct impact on the lives of others. For my job to become a calling, I must have the opportunity to nurture in others a love for courage and truth, and to support their quest for self-improvement and meaning.
Throughout my undergraduate career, I thought I was on the path to graduate school, a doctorate degree, and becoming a researcher in the neurosciences. I was on this path until my senior spring. The doubts I had about graduate school had bubbled to the surface, and I realized that while the process of learning and doing research was interesting to me, it did not provide the sense of connection and meaning that I craved. Yes, I learned about the brain, the neurochemistry behind the impulses we have, how hormones affect animal and human behavior and physiology, and a whole host of other fascinating topics. But these academic activities did not satisfy my desire for connection nor my desire to make a difference in the lives of others directly.
This is where Promise Corps comes into play. For me, Promise Corps represents that opportunity to foster connection, courage and truth, and a love of learning in myself and those around me. Over the past two months, the connections I have formed have helped me continue working even when things got challenging. Lucas, an experienced CCA, has been the wise Yoda of our group. He has taken the time to encourage us, guide us through the processes of planning different trips, and has actively sought to go beyond the surface-connection of academics and into the lives of students. Haley has spearheaded our efforts to maintain great relationships with our organization and the other members of the school community. Shae has been the calming and consistent, yet humorous force, that provides stability to our classroom. And last but not least, a former member, Ms. P., continually motivated me to do better, to focus on the positives, and to remember that what matters most is our students.
Thanks to the effort we’ve put in as a team, we have had numerous special moments that I hope will continue to happen. We’ve had impromptu dance and sing-offs with students, math competitions where we excitedly raced to see who could finish a problem first, and candid talks where we’d unveil our vulnerabilities to the accepting support of our peers. No matter whether it’s these fun-filled moments, or the tiny moments of victory when our students are able to keep pushing through tough classwork, I know that we are making a difference.
Having had these experiences, my future is no longer so clear cut. No longer is graduate school my set-in-stone answer to the question, “What are your next steps?” Instead, the pathways to education and to service have opened up. I’m excited to see how the rest of this year will influence my future. Until then, see you!
– Richard Vu, College and Career Ambassador at Sayre High School