Why did these young individuals join JEVS TechServ Scholars AmeriCorps Program? Five of our scholars from the 2017-18 year explain:
I came to TechServ, because I’ve always had a passion for helping children, and when I was in school I was very concerned with being pretty. So TechServ was a must for me. It’s a way to challenge myself to be more than just a pretty face and to help minority children explore other career paths. I am currently placed in a public school in Camden that is underfunded and lacking in resources. Computer access for most of these children is only had in school. That means they have computer skills that are limited to what is needed in class or on State Testing. So my goal is work with teachers to develop a curriculum that goes beyond the basic scope of learning in the classroom. We also encourage students to excel in their general classes so they have a better understanding for what we are teaching them. We have seen students start to re-engage in class again. They have a renewed interest in learning. We are giving children a broader perspective on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). We have even started to take some students as mentees so we can follow then throughout the rest of their school career. Every day I wake up I get to go to work and inspire the next generation to be better than me. For me there is nothing more important than to get children excited about their future.
I joined TechServ because I want to give back to my community. Growing up in a community of activists made me want to give back to underserved communities. Seeing the impact of helping communities grow showed me that with hard work and motivation we can also make a change in the community. TechServ has given me the opportunity to give back and create change in our underserved community. I am so glad to be here.
I chose TechServ because at an uncertain point in my life, I realized that I needed to build more character before I could get started on my prospective career path. First, I want to build up on field experience so I can edify my skillset and prepare to return to college. Second, I want to work on my soft skills so I can more confidently serve others. Lastly, I want to be a conduit for knowledge towards my community; I want to pass down what I learned over the years, be it tidbits of information or cautionary tales, to build up people of all ages.
Since starting two months ago, I’ve come far in contributing to the program. In the beginning, I provided logistical support for community service projects, and I supported my colleagues with troubleshooting problems they faced. Today, I offer technical and instructional support at a public school in Camden. In the future I expect to improve the technical infrastructure of my assigned school, provide detailed feedback for TechServ to evolve, and make an impact on those willing to lend an ear.
TechServ is important because it provides a platform for volunteers to learn, teach, and grow. It gives a chance for us to give back to our community while guaranteeing more opportunities upon completion of the program. We get out as much as we put into this program. Like any good startup, TechServ rolls with the punches and adapts to changing times.
My name is Khadija Fraiji. My life has rarely been easy. I grew up in South Philly. I grew up with overworked parents. I grew up on survivor benefits. I grew up without the security of knowing that what I had one day would still be there the next. And I learned at an early age that the only way I’d have anything in this world was if I worked for it. I got my GED from JEVS E3 Center in January of 2016 (with the highest score in social studies to date, of any E3 Center City student). That was a turning point in my life. Until then, I’d worked for purposes and for other people, but never for myself.
Eventually my connection with JEVS led me to apply to TechServ. I didn’t think TechServ was for me at all at first, but through the nagging persistence of my former E3 instructors and a friend of mine, I applied, and I got in. Since joining TechServ I’ve found out a bit more about the direction I want to follow in life and the steps that will get me there. It’s been hard work, the first few weeks were full of sweat and even some blood here and there setting up a computer/robotics lab at Martin Luther King rec center. But we had to put in physical work to set up an environment for us to work out of, so we did. And I think that’s what I love most about TechServ, the work isn’t always easy, but I’m surrounded by people who recognize the necessity of putting in the hard work to see results. TechServ is important because it’s through the work of programs like this one that affect change by engaging on individual and community levels, that we can make an impact on the poverty gap and the digital divide and the simple lack of access to information that keeps people (and children in particular) from access to opportunities. I believe we have a responsibility to ensure that every child is exposed in some way to the endless opportunities that studying areas of STEM opens up to you.
People are much deeper than stereotypes. It’s the first place our minds go when seeing or meeting someone. Then you get to know them and hear their stories and you say, ‘I’d never have guessed.’
I have lived in Philadelphia my whole life and have been the center of many stereotypes for as long as I could remember. Having an addict birth mother and a broken home, I was thought to become a problem child for sure. However, I was different, I was me. I was as mild tempered as a butterfly. I had a love for learning, and I was always involved in classroom activities. When I became pregnant at 18 years old, I could feel the stares of judgement from everyone. I was a struggling single mom to society taking on false or exaggerated stereotypes. I wasn’t a dropout because of my pregnancy; I dropped out because I had a little sister with a mental disability that I was caring for, but to others I was just another uneducated pregnant teen. A year after the birth of my daughter, I found myself depressed and plummeting into a dark pit.
I was at my ends when I found the E3 Center, a program through JEVS. My time at JEVS was a real transformative moment in my life, I loved my teachers and obtained my GED within two years. Although I believe I could have gotten it sooner, perseverance definitely became my best friend and is key to how I work out things today. In 2017 my E3 family introduced me to the TechServ program, and I jumped at the chance to challenge myself at learning a new skill. Before TechServ I grudged using a computer; the thought of typing my papers brought tears. Now I have dismantled more than a few computers, and I can tell you what’s inside, how a CPU works and much more.