A Conversation with Roland Lucas

rolandConducted Jan 16, 1pm

Meet Roland Lucas, our very own College and Career Coach at West Philadelphia High School. Roland is from New Jersey and is the first in his family to graduate from college: Rutgers University, where he studied economics and political science and also participated in Dance Marathon, Greek Life, and was a tour guide. Roland plans to attend law school after his service year with Promise Corps. In his free time, Roland enjoys running, hiking, and reading. Let’s see what Roland has to say about his experience with Promise Corps so far.

Q: What motivated you to serve with Promise Corps?

A: I was always interested in doing a service year at some time in my life, and this was a decision on my part after I decided I wanted to wait to go to law school. I wanted to move to the Philadelphia because I had family here who are very involved in Philadelphia and I had always been an Eagles fan. I wanted to get to know the city more and give back.

Q: What are some highlights of your service year so far?

A: Definitely interacting with the students. I think the biggest highlight for me would be teaching them how to tie a tie. Especially just being able to share that experience with them for the first time because some of the students have never had that experience before. That was something very special for me.

Q: What do you look forward to most as part of Promise Corps?

A: I’m looking forward to doing as much as I can in the year that I’m here. I would just like the students to be in a better place when they’re done with the year with me then when I started. Whether that’s they’re more energized, more motivated, feel more supported – I think that’s the biggest impact a lot of us can do. Especially since I see that a lot of them come from neighborhoods where they don’t have that kind of motivation. Sometimes they’re going to classes where they’re really tired, or overwrought with different emotions, but also having to go through school and think about what to do after school ends. So if I can have an impact and help them in any way that creates that kind of supportive environment then I’d like to do that. 

Q: What are some ways you find helpful in reaching students?

A: Usually it’s just to get on their level. A lot of the times I feel they feel like they’re being talked to and not being talked with. So in terms of my conversations with them I’d ask them how their day’s going, I’ll ask them what they’re up to, what kind of music they like to listen to. Sometimes I’d play music with them during our sessions, I find that kind of relaxes them a little bit and builds a connection. But you know I also take the time to make sure they’re accomplishing what I know they’re capable of because that’s also important.

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect(s) of your service?

A: A lot of the kids they’re not very motivated or sometimes difficult to reach, and you’re trying to put your full energy to try to get students to reach their benchmarks or reach their potential. And a lot of days it feels like that’s impossible, but over time and through a lot of effort they come around and that makes a difference.

Q: In what ways is Promise Corps consistent with your expectations?

A: The requirements that we’d have to meet and PC roles in terms of our service – the quantitative stuff that we have to do. 

Q: In what ways is Promise Corps different from your expectations?

A: What I didn’t expect was the qualitative stuff that comes with it – so like the experiences and relationships that you make during this time. 

Q: What are your goals and plans for the rest of the year and afterwards?

A: My goals for the rest of the year are to make sure that all the students come away from this service year in Promise Corps feeling like they can do whatever it is that’s living up to their potential. So they’re not dismissing their value or worth and take a step forward in the right direction. I also want to make sure that the next team that comes in is well-prepared and well-equipped, and that the students and staff here are well-prepared for whatever comes next year, because I would like the experience to be similar and always improving. Because we’re not here next year, it’s important for there to be continuity and a transition that is appropriate.

Ivy Tse- College and Career Coach at West Philadelphia High School

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