ACE Career Panel

As my year in Promise Corps comes to an end, the questions “ What’s next?” and “Do you want to go into teaching?”  have continuously come up. The answer I give is a simple, “I don’t know yet.” After graduating from the Pennsylvania State University, being a highly involved student leader in THON, serving as an intern with the Borgen Project and working as a Promise Corps CCA, I know two things: I love working with kids and I love providing them with the resources they need to succeed.

So on April 16, 2018 Promise Corps hosted an “Alternative Careers in Education” panel to give members like myself a chance to learn about careers in education, working with youth, corporate giving management, counseling, immigration, and law. The event took place at 6pm 1234 Market Street. Panelists in attendance included:

Dr. Guy Diamond: Director of The Center for Family Intervention Science at Drexel University

Paige Joki: Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow at the Education Law Center

Elizabeth Galez: National Manager of Corporate Programs at City Year

Kristian Ogungbemi: Current teacher and participant of UPenn’s Urban Teacher Residency Program

Carolina Torres: Office Manager at Juntos

Andrea DiMola: Community Schools Senior Supervisor

The event started with a brief introduction, followed by questions for the panelists, and ended with light refreshments and time to network.

What seemed to be the big theme of the night was networking and building relationships. According to Dr. Guy Diamond, “People who do well meet people and make connections.” Personally, I could not agree more. One of the things I am most thankful for is the strong alumni network I have behind me and the people I have met and formed relationships with through my college and AmeriCorps experience. Going along with networking, Paige Joki encouraged us to, “Let people know what you want to do. Tell people. You have no idea how supportive people will be and how much they’ll want to help you and introduce you to people.”

What do you do after forming those relationships and continuing to strengthen your network? The panelists say translating your experience into the job you want and goals you have is important. By having the title “AmeriCorps member,” being able to help build capacity at an organization, having a strong work ethic, being more experienced, flexible and adaptable is a given. The thing that is going to make you stand out is how you translate those experiences into numbers and the impact you’ve made. “Be prepared to tell your story in numbers,” one of the panelists mentions.  Your story is something you know better than anyone else. Be prepared to tell it. Tell it in your resume and make your cover letter personal because your story matters.

I want to give a big thank you to Bethany and Kerry for organizing this event. It answered questions I had and gave all of us an opportunity to meet some incredible and inspiring people. Thank you to all the panelists who came. Your advice and knowledge of the field you are in was very valuable to the rest of the CCA’s and myself.

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– Yaczin Hernandez, College & Career Ambassador at Overbrook High School



Painting With A Purpose!

Easterseals is an organization that works to help people with disabilities. They provide services for children, parents, seniors, caregivers, and veterans. Some of the services they provide include early childhood intervention, child development centers, job training and placement, and music therapy. Easterseals centers and services are located in Philadelphia and across the country.

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On Thursday March 29th and Friday March 30th, Promise Corps set out to give back and help an organization that pours their heart into helping others. We arrived at Easterseals bright and early. It was then that we met with some of their staff, as well as the Playworks AmeriCorps members who were going to help us with the work as well. After we participated in a brief icebreaker, Bethany rolled out our assignments and the building we would each be placed in.

Half of the members stayed at the Easterseals headquarters, and the other half went to the elementary school. Once we were there we started cleaning, wiping down the walls, taping the edges of the room, and painting with a purpose! After two days of painting, the rooms looked a little brighter and more colorful. I’m so excited for the kids and teachers to see their newly painted rooms! It was also really great to be able to spend some time with other members in Promise Corps and meet new members of Playworks.

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Thank you to the Easterseals staff for being so welcoming and allowing us into your workspace. I will definitely take you up on your offer and be back to see the work you do with the kids!

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“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It is not.”

– Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

– Yaczin Hernandez, College & Career Ambassador at Overbrook High School


Passing on the Service Baton at Sayre

On March 19, Rich, a CCA at Sayre, collaborated with Amanpreet (Aman) Kaur to teach students about national service and to share their own experiences in four different classes.

Rich taught the students that a Service Year is a “paid opportunity to develop real-world skills through hands-on service,” and expanded more on the philosophical, altruistic, and self-advancement reasons for doing service. He shared about how his current service year has shaped him as a thinker, a leader, a doer. Most importantly, he revealed how his service has taught him that he doesn’t have to do big things to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the students he works with: one of Rich’s meaningful moments was when he helped one of his students create a plan to combine their desire to wrestle in the WWE and to matriculate into a bachelor’s program.

Soon after, he gave way to the proud Service Year alumnus and Community Health & Engineering Librarian of Penn’s Biomedical Library, Aman. She regaled our students with her tales of her dramatic history with service and her many contributions to the Literacy AmeriCorps of Palm County (see her blog post).

Students sat with interest and one became so enthusiastic, he decided to champion Service Year in our last class. He exclaimed the various facts that enticed him to do a service year, such as the fact that there are “over 65,000 opportunities to do Service years,” that it was a pathway to higher education, and other reasons for doing a Service Year. He became our spokesman for much of the first half of our workshop and when the workshop neared the end, he kept Aman on her feet with his flurry of questions: He wanted to learn as much as he could.

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You might be wondering who that student was if you didn’t get it from the title, that student was Kiwauun, our resident tenth grader and now the honorary spokesman of Service Year.

– Richard Vu, College & Career Ambassador at Sayre High School


Student Spotlights from Sayre


On March 14, a medium-sized group of 10-12th graders and the Sayre team visited the alma mater of our very own CCA Tyshae Hightower, Temple University. There, the students went on a tour through the Tunnelman Learning Center, School of Business, and parkway where Temple’s founder stays.


Going to Temple is an opportunity for many of our students to see what their future can look like: of them, we selected two students to introduce to you: Rasheed and Saleemah. For the two of them, the Temple trip was an opportunity to get interested and ask lots of questions, a fruitful endeavour for both of them.

Rasheed, Tenth Grader

Richard (Rich, CCA): What did you go into the Temple Trip expecting and what did you get out of it?”

Rasheed (Sheed): A lot of opportunities and programs. It’s a good school.

Rich: Can you share some of the questions that you asked? What did you like?

Sheed: I asked what kind of programs they had, and they have over a 150 programs, like electronics. The campus is big. They have a lot of programs, libraries, and stuff, anything that will help you out if you need it.

Rich: What did you learn about this experience?

Sheed: It’s a great opportunity because if you need a helping hand, Temple is there. Whatever you need, ask anybody. It’ll teach you good things.

Saleemah, Eleventh Grader

Rich: What did you expect?

Saleemah: I’ve been to Temple. This is my third time. The first time, I came for the basketball game, the women’s basketball game, and it was cool. I got to see how girls play basketball and it was fun. The other times, was like a tour, but I wasn’t expecting a lot because this is not my first time to Temple. This is my first time coming into this building (the business school and student lunch center). When he was telling us about the business and all the different programs, I didn’t get that on the other trips.

Rich: Did you like the tour?

Saleemah: I liked the person giving the tour. He was informational and gave specific details. I liked his advice when he told me I should come here for pre-med. I’m still thinking about that. I might come here for pre-med and go to medical school.

Rich: What are the things you liked about Temple that might push you to go? If you were to tell other students about how to prepare for college trips, what would you tell them to do?

Saleemah: It’s big. You’ll never know. You’ll end up inside the business building and turn around, inside the media part. It’s a whole lot of different things and it’s very interesting. I would tell them to really listen and take in the knowledge that the person is giving them and to ask a whole lot of questions. It’s important to ask questions because they might not think of telling you all that you want to know. The question might [prompt an], “Oh yeah, I didn’t tell them about this, so let me tell them about it.”


– Richard Vu, College & Career Ambassador at Sayre High School



Student Spotlight: Michael Jordan

The Future team would like to recognize Michael W. Jordan for getting accepted into his dream school: Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). Michael has been talking about going to IUP since we’ve met him. He had his heart set on this school, and when it looked like he wasn’t getting an acceptance letter, he lost hope. He even said he was done with the college process. None of us here at Future wanted that for him, so we told him to remain patient.

On March 19, 2018 Michael walked into the Promise Corps room with the biggest smile on his face. This is rare that he walks into the room so happy early in the morning, because I mean let’s face it, he’s a teenager, and no teen likes getting up that early for school. Plus, it was a Monday. However, on that day he had a reason to come in smiling. He shared with us his acceptance, and of course we wanted to see proof. Michael went into his bag and pulled out his letter. As we read the letter, his smile just kept getting bigger and bigger. We are so proud of Michael and his accomplishment. IUP has accepted a young man who we are sure will make a difference at their university.


Michael wants to major in Business Entrepreneurship with hopes of opening his own business one day. Michael isn’t sure yet what kind of business he wants to open, but his time at IUP and all the experiences he will gain will surely help him in his decision. We all are wishing Michael well on his journey to IUP and we cannot wait until he gets his award package so that we can sit down and help him through it.

– Shaquana Gantt, College & Career Ambassador at School of the Future

Member Spotlight: Ashley Bell

Reaping the Harvest, Interview with CCA Ms. Ashley Bell at Overbrook High School:


What led you to apply to Promise Corps?

My year of service as an AmeriCorps Vista was ending and I was looking for employment. The places I applied to weren’t calling me back. After a conversation with my best friend whose term was ending as CCA…I decided to apply on a whim and less than a week later I was a CCA. God was not opening any other doors and opened this one to Promise Corps!

What does a typical day at Overbrook High School look like for you?

There is no such thing as a typical day…it’s truly like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re going to get. In the morning before I walk into the building I pray. 1st period I take time to collect my thoughts and get  ready for the day ahead. Later that same morning I do a check up with my team. Then 2nd-4th period I helps kids in the PC room, try to hunt down some of my students, have meetings, and prepare to teach fourth period.                          

What has been the most challenging thing this year?

Professionally this job has been taxing physically and emotionally… 7:30-4:30 is tiring and it can sometimes go longer. There is a constant outpouring, high energy, and you see a lot things that are very emotional. We are not teachers or counselors but we are someone who sees the students every day, and sometimes I feel like our level of power is very limited of what we can do….so that can be frustrating. Personally it’s been challenging because I’ve never seen myself in this role. I believe we all have a purpose, so I’m just trying to figure out what God has for me through this year.

What is the most rewarding thing?

Off the top of my head, one of my students got into the top colleges (Millersville University). But getting to know the students outside of paper, who they are, what their stories are, who they are and how they plan to get there is definitely another one. I’ve learned that apart from students, they are people first.

Another rewarding thing would be how our relationships in the school in regards with administration and staff have greatly improved, because what most people don’t know is that we had to work and fight really hard to get the relationships as strong as they are, and that means a lot. We are someone that they can lean on, and as the vice principal said, “ we have engrossed ourselves within the culture of our school.” (and that is the secret of having a successful program in the school).

If you could give one piece of advice to future CCAs what would it be?

Run…LOL jk! I feel like I could give so much advice, but one little gem that I’ll drop is to build a strong relationship within your team. See our team, we are like a mini family. There have been some days when I was ready to quit….and on those days we will drop everything and take the time where we all support one another or help each other out through whatever it is. We aren’t afraid to be there for one another, to be vulnerable and able to ask for help. Oh and we LAUGH, we laugh a lot!

What has your role as a CCA taught you?

GRACE. To have grace with your students, because sometimes it’s easy to forget that they are just high school students and have other things going on. If they mess up today or cuss you out, don’t hold it against them, instead be the role model and and example that teaches them to talk it out and have a have a discussion on why that was wrong.

It has also helped me to remember to have grace with my own personal relationships and myself. Because sometimes you can be your own worst critic. You think “I’m supposed to know this, know how to do that..etc.”  but grace comes into play when you make those mistakes….”give yourself enough grace to grow.”

What are your plans after this year?

Well hopefully I get accepted into Teach For America, and I am able to return to Overbrook to continue the work that I’ve started. But ultimately I’m just being obedient to God, so it’s wherever he wants to take me. “I’m the pencil, he’s the author…but I definitely know wherever I go, Overbrook is coming with me”

Do you have any last remarks?


Grit – As in it’s going to be hard and you need to put in work for this process. It’s going to take courage for you to analyze your flaws, strengths and weaknesses. Finding out your purpose is not going to be easy but it’ll be worth it.

Grace- Have enough grace to be willing to grow, get up and try again. If God gives us grace everyday, who are you not to give that grace to others and yourself? Don’t beat yourself up.

Growth- Be willing to grow. If you are stagnant, what are you doing? Always ask yourself this one thing…how is this growing me? Whatever you’re doing just bloom, baby bloom!

– Yaczin Hernandez, College & Career Ambassador at Overbrook High School