By Kerri-Lyn Traves, Vice President
In July of 2013, Laura Cowie, a recent University of Maine at Farmington graduate, moved to Miami, “the exact opposite of Maine,” as she puts it. Laura graduated with a BFA in Creative Writing, a BA in English, and a minor in Spanish. She made the move to do service work. “I am currently serving a year as a full-time volunteer with an Americorps organization called City Year.” She works tutoring English and being a co-teacher in an under resourced high school in Liberty City.
When Laura first arrived in Miami it was a “culture shock,” she said. “Miami is a diverse world all it’s own- it’s not quite the US, not quite Latin America.” Her minor in Spanish comes in very handy on a day-to-day basis however.
The program Laura is working for, City Year, has a goal to end the national drop-out crisis. “Sadly, 50% of all US HS dropouts come form only 12% of schools- most of which are in major cities where there are striking contrasts between the wealth and poverty.” City Year wants to make a change to these saddening statistics. “They do this through the power of young people. City Year employs 17-24 year olds to volunteer before, during, and after school in one school in one city for an entire school year. As volunteers, tutors, co-teachers, and mentors we work with the lowest performing students in the most needy schools.“
Laura’s contract ends in May, but she is already thinking of renewing it for an additional year. Being there less than three months already has been making a tremendous impact on her life. “Serving with City Year in Miami is opening my eyes to the rampant social injustices in America, specifically within our education system,” she said. The money that comes along with a job is the last thing on her mind. She wants to work long-term in non-profit organizations.
“I don’t know exactly what my future will look like, but that’s fine by me. I could have never imagined living in central Miami a few months after I graduated college, but every time I help a student write a poem or understand a new word, I am affirmed I’m in the right place at the right time.”