As my time at ACH Clear Pathways comes to a close, more than anything, I hope I have created a meaningful, and sustaining, impact. I hope, that by promoting small acts of kindness, striving to nurture empathy, working to engage with the children, and allowing a space for creativity, I have produced an effect greater than myself. My impact does not need to be grand in its qualities. It can be as simple as teaching a student how to reorder spelling words in alphabetical order, helping to assemble a birthday card for a student’s father, representing myself as a college-educated individual (a goal for which they can strive), or learning to treat others with kindness and respect, even in difficult situations. Leaving a lasting impact became my goal on the very first day. As soon as I realized there was an opportunity to help others, I made it my mission to show up and give my best to these students.
Connecting my time at ACH to my plans currently and after graduation has been a journey of self-discovery. As of now, I am a double major in English and philosophy with a minor in political science. Through my work at ACH, I have discovered that learning and education require patience, empathy, and kindness. As a third-year student at Duquesne University, there are often times when I become overwhelmed with the workload, course material, and deadlines that I have to meet. In these moments of discouragement, I must provide myself with the same care that I would an ACH student. Kids often become frustrated with their schoolwork, and that does not change in adulthood––provided, I have a deeper understanding of the value of education and do not take it for granted. I have discovered education and learning (any topic) require a certain element of mindfulness: mindfulness of oneself, others, and the subject matter. Even if the work seems overwhelming, it is crucial to treat yourself, and others, with delicate care and understanding.
After graduation, I plan to attend law school. Connecting my work at ACH to law has been an undertaking, one which has fostered profound reflection and self-understanding. Aside from the patience and empathy I must provide myself with when learning the new subject area of law. I find that an important, transferrable skill from ACH to law school is relationship building and hearing others’ voices. Learning how to create meaningful relationships with diverse communities drives your worldview to expand. More than this, hearing stories from these communities allows for their fundamental help and betterment. As a lawyer, I may have to represent clients in their best light, understanding their stories and persisting to obtain their justice.
The ways in which ACH Clear Pathways has shaped me into a better advocate for myself and others are manifold. It was truly an unforgettable and invaluable experience, one which I will never forget!