Yessenia Sanchez, Step Up Tutoring
Harnessing the power of simple human kindness
“During one session with a student, she told me for the first time without prompting that she ‘believed in herself.’ It was my proudest moment. College Corps reminded me of the power of simple human kindness to combat challenges many communities face.”
How has your experience in service impacted you and your community?
During my service, I tutored students with similar backgrounds to me (growing up lower income, attending Los Angeles public schools). The biggest impact I saw was how engaged students seemed because of our shared second language and consistent encouragement.
These students often didn’t have access to support outside classroom time, which is especially important in the aftermath of the pandemic and social distance learning. Seeing their eyes light up with the self-assurance that they could bridge any learning gaps warmed my heart and showed me the importance of educators. I realized educator is a role that anyone who is committed to investing their time and effort into youth can fill in their community. My time with students inspired me to continue looking back and giving back, especially because their backgrounds are not so different from mine.
What is something you did during your service that makes you feel proud?
When tutoring my students, I quickly realized the challenge educators face in tackling their pupils’ self-doubt, especially in math or reading. Working through that self-doubt requires patience and continuous encouragement. I understand why such skills are a virtue in education. If your student doesn’t believe in themself, you must believe in them enough for both of you.
No matter the problem or support needed, I kept a positive disposition, hoping to raise my students’ hearts and minds. During one session with a student, she told me for the first time without prompting that she ‘believed in herself.’ it was my proudest moment. I knew I had given my pupil something she could carry with her in her future learning endeavors.
How has your College Corps experience inspired the next steps in your career or education?
I hold deep gratitude for my community, especially having risen above challenges thanks to past volunteers’ support. Meeting fellow college students who are furthering their education and working for the betterment of all inspires me to carry that same attitude through my professional, educational, and personal journeys. There is power in investing in places that surround us and beauty in providing pathways for those who come after us. Truthfully, College Corps reminded me of the power of simple human kindness to combat challenges many communities face.
What are your plans after service? What are your career/educational goals (e.g., your “dream” job)?
My dream is to pursue a career in law and public policy. I will always be drawn to serving the people and aiding where I can. Past support from my community was the only reason I had a meal on my plate or a chance at higher education, shaping me into someone who shall always look back and seek to give back. After my service, I will continue earning a bachelor’s degree in political science at UCLA. My ambitions grow by the day, but for now, I am driven to become a first-generation college graduate, while helping others along my path.