Before I even graduated high school, I had my mind and heart set on joining AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). I didn’t think that going to college right away was something that I wanted to do, nor did I think it was something I was capable of after going through thirteen years of back-to-back schooling.
After months of trying to convince my family to let me take a gap year, they eventually supported my decision and I applied to be a Corps Member in AmeriCorps NCCC. For some medical purposes and clearances, I didn’t know I was accepted until about a week before I had to be at the Southwest Region headquarters in Denver, Colorado. It was hectic trying to get everything together, but I eventually did and I became an official Corps Member of AmeriCorps NCCC on October 7, 2015.
During my time with AmeriCorps NCCC, I worked and lived in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico doing construction and working at the Boys and Girls Club of Sierra County. I also worked and lived in Little Rock Arkansas working with the Love Your School Initiative to teach the youth of Little Rock about healthy diet and exercise. That was also the round I won Corps Member of the Round. Finally, for my last round, I worked and lived in St. Louis, Missouri creating a city-wide map of the entirety of the city of St. Louis.
Moreover, I gained some of the greatest friends I’ll ever have, the OG A1. Cody Watts, who can belt a musical note while simultaneously building a greenhouse. Darlene Gray, who has introduced me to one of my favorite shows and who goes hard when it comes to paint. Evelyn Kwong, who, without, I would not be the person I am today. Jasmine Aldershoff, who not only creates art, but is art in all that she does. Jordan Thorne, who has the most infectious laugh you’ll ever know and, man, do I hope you get the chance to know. Katie Fernandez, who has taught me the importance of self care and organization. Katie Smith, who is hands down one of the most resilient and intelligent women I know. Nicolas Ashford, who showed me my very first constellation and gives the very best advice. Stefan Deutsch, who, despite being a dingus, believed in me through all my ups and downs. Taylor Haight, who became like a big brother to me and took me to the best MLB game I’ve ever been to. There are others, of course, but my team has become my family, even after all this time.
I’ve learned, during my year off between high school and college, that it doesn’t matter so much what you do as who you do it with.