A Light Upon the Hill: Aidan Menchaca’s Service Experience at City Year

Written by Aidan Menchaca, City Year Boston AmeriCorps Member and Tufts Alumnus

In addition to reading about Aidan’s experience, consider attending our Opportunities with AmeriCorps Program on Thursday, February 18.
Learn More and Register Here

The charge of every Tufts student from the moment they set foot on campus is to be “a light upon the hill.” By nurturing their light, each student contributes to Tufts’ light spanning across generations and, indeed, the whole world.

For me, service has always been a key part of this light. In my mind, service is the active potential of work done in classrooms all across campus; it is the true real-world application of all of those essays, quizzes and tests.

06/21/2017 – Medford/Somerville, Mass. – The cupola of Carmichael Hall is silhouetted against the setting sun on the longest day of the year during the summer solstice on June 21, 2017. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

As I graduated last spring, there was little light to see. Campus had shuttered in March and while I was feeling proud of my graduation, I was deeply unsure of where my next step would take me. I saw the pandemic around me wreak havoc on the country, especially BIPOC communities. I heard the calls of the BLM movement fighting for racial justice. I struggled to find work in what was then a major recession. Faced with this, I took the advice I had heard from my parents. When you don’t know what to do, start by helping someone. With my housemate already committed to doing City Year, I felt that this was the right step.

As a City Year AmeriCorps member, I have the privilege of working in a biotechnology and physics classroom, serving students primarily in 9th grade. I help my partner teacher create an environment where each student feels cared for and engaged. I call students and families as tech support some days. Other days, I tutor students in any subject, helping them develop as writers, thinkers, and people. Coming in without a science background was intimidating, but learning with the students allowed me to connect with them on a deeper level and anticipate places they would get stuck. I have also lived through these past few months with them, learning about the Covid-19 virus, watching the Presidential inauguration, and helping them stay on track in the maze of virtual learning.

In many ways, this year of service has been my 5th year of my Tufts education as I’ve learned more about histories not often highlighted. I have learned how to mentor and work with students more effectively and engage them authentically. I have sharpened my tools as an anti-racist educator and advocate for young people.

Midway through my service year I look to the horizon feeling more prepared than ever. Next year, I plan to attend graduate school to further my study of history. I know that I will carry my students with me as I seek to interrogate our understanding of medieval European history and teach with an anti-racist focus. Most of all, I will continue to nurture my light that ignited through service. I hope it adds another to the hill.

To learn more about serving as an AmeriCorps member with City Year, contact Paul Riley, Recruiter, at priley1@cityyear.org or (617) 372-2935. For more stories of City Year’s service at Burke High School, check out their Instagram.

By Aidan Menchaca
Aidan Menchaca Tufts Alum