#FellowshipFriday — Meet NYC’s Stephanie Li

#FellowshipFriday — Meet NYC’s Stephanie Li

What did you study in school? Why?

I studied psychology in college because I was really interested in learning about the mind and human behavior. The subject provided me with a better understanding of others and myself, and I enjoyed using this knowledge to build better relationships with my peers.

What made you commit to a year of service?

I wanted to gain experience working with different people, and I wanted to work towards a mission I believed in. After four years of study in college, I was eager to put that knowledge into work so that I could contribute to the community.

Is this different from your own educational experience growing up?

The students at Great Oaks have something I wish I had when I was growing up: mentors. We are there to support them in ways that extend beyond their academics, and are able to give them the individualized attention that may be lacking in the classroom. I’m confident that the mentorship we provide will make a significant impact in how they lead their lives. I wish I had such role models in my educational experience growing up.

How would this model have helped you?

I think being able to give students individualized attention would’ve helped me a lot when I was growing up. In a classroom with one teacher and thirty other students, it was very easy to fade into the background, and this showed in my overall school performance.

What past experiences helped prepare you for this role?

First and foremost, being an older sister. I was a mentor since elementary school, helping my little sister with her homework before I even finished mine. Also, immediately after college, I worked in a small community alongside individuals with developmental disabilities. It was a challenging yet wonderful and rewarding experience that left me with a greater sense of patience and ability to relate to others.

What keeps you motivated day in and day out?

My interactions with the students. They never fail to brighten my day, no matter how tough the job can get.

What events/interactions have inspired you this year?

Going to my students’ basketball game has recently brought about a renewed energy for me. I know I’m doing my job right when I see how happy they are to have their friends and mentors cheering them on in the audience. These students continue to inspire me with their passion and energy. And when I see one of my students make a good shot, I get so excited! I am one proud Fellow.

What are your plans post AmeriCorps?

I plan to pursue a graduate degree in mental health counseling.

How would you like to see the Fellowship model grow?

I would like to see more collaboration between mentors and teachers regarding the material covered in mentoring and classrooms. As an 8th grade math Fellow, I have found that the mismatch between math mentoring and math class have sometimes worked against a student. I think a more defined relationship between the two spaces will help students to deepen their understanding of new concepts.