Elizabeth Brown served the community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at City Year in Greater Philadelphia in the 2002-2003 AmeriCorps project year. At City Year, AmeriCorps members serve full-time in schools during the academic year as tutors, mentors, and role models. By focusing on attendance, behavior, and course performance, which identify students who are at risk of not graduating on time, AmeriCorps members are uniquely positioned to help students and schools succeed. Currently, Brown is a city council member in the City of Columbus. Q: What was your role as a member? What community issues did you address? A: I worked to promote literacy and service learning in the Philadelphia Public Schools, primarily as a corps member at Harding Middle School, but also as program director for a citywide spring break camp. Q: What was your favorite memory from serving? What did you enjoy most about your experience? A: One memory always stands out of a boy named Nigel in the sixth-grade English class where I served as a teacher’s assistant. He told me he was totally uninterested in school, and we would often take laps around the school when his behavior needed some attention, chatting about life, his concerns, and more. Halfway through the school year, the teacher and I worked on a poetry unit for the class, and Nigel learned about Langston Hughes. Something awakened in him, and not only did he devour the material, but he also was motivated on his own terms to copy Hughes’ poetry into an illustrated book—above and beyond the class assignment—showing what spoke to him the most about it. It was a small moment of understanding what resonant material can do for a child’s sense of wonder about the world and sense of motivation too. Q: How has AmeriCorps service influenced where you are today? A: My AmeriCorps service taught me some of my greatest lessons about the intersection between public policy and people’s lives. In the classroom, kids are facing not just the result of education policy—class size, old or new textbooks, teacher support—they are also facing whatever they brought to school with them: housing policy, food availability, wages, and criminal justice systems that determine the mobility their families have access to outside the classroom. Q: Would you recommend joining AmeriCorps to your peers? Why or why not? A: I recommend AmeriCorps service to every group of young people I speak with. It is a transformative thing to spend a chunk of your life entirely dedicated to service. The peers you meet share your sense of commitment, and the people you serve are examples of the promise and greatness of every neighborhood. To learn more about the AmeriCorps program and to read more alumni stories, click here .