Josh McNeil repainting the hallways of the Curley Community Center during Comcast Cares Day in 2012.
Guest blog by Boston College
A year of service with AmeriCorps and City Year is challenging, and rewarding—not only for the students you tutor and mentor, but for the young men and women who serve. It’s a year of self-discovery and professional development that helps most alumni decide what career path they’d like to travel. City Year alumni comprise a significant, active segment of the Boston College (BC) School of Social Work’s population. This fall alone, 22 graduates of the program matriculated at the school. Many of them bring strong leadership skills, and a clear devotion to bringing about change in the world.
One of those leaders is M. Josh McNeil, a second-year Masters of social work (MSW) student and City Year alumnus ’12, ’13.
Here, Josh explains how he owes his chosen career path, social work, to his City Year experience.
“I joined City Year because of my devotion to social justice, and throughout my experience, the program supported my desire to educate others on some of the socioeconomic and educational injustices that affected students here in Boston.
I came into the program thinking that I was going to graduate and go into law school. But during my City Year experience, I realized that social work was more for me. My program manager was a major influence on me: When she first saw my passion leading teammates around City Hall and other historic sites in Boston, she told me that I should be an activist, and that I could combine my charisma with a love for justice. She was also a great mentor to me in my work with students, and she taught me to better collaborate and to enhance my students' reading, writing, and critical thinking skills with hip-hop workshops. It meant a lot to be able to see their excitement, and the excitement of their teachers, as my students worked on their projects."
This summer, Josh was one of a select group of 13 BC Social Work students who studied immigrant integration in Italy (Josh tweeted throughout the cohort’s travels @BCGSSW):
"I am now in my final year at the Boston College School of Social Work. The course I took this summer in Italy on immigration, social work, and social services was especially formative and it broadened my horizons, as they were similarly broadened when I was working with City Year. While I certainly learned a lot, I have a lot more to learn and I look forward to the next steps along my journey.
I feel humbled, blessed, and privileged to be in this fulfilling profession, and without my City Year experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I look forward to the opportunities afforded to me to help others. Thanks to City Year, I know exactly what my purpose is.”
Josh's leadership skills and clear professional goals set him up for success in the classroom. as one of his course professors, Westy Egmont, Director of Immigrant Intention Lab, said:
“Josh recently traveled with a cohort of classmates from BC to explore the issues of diversity in Italy as it adjusts to being a major receiving nation of migrants from across Africa and the Middle East. Josh, with humor and grace, pressed Italian academics and community leaders on their views on immigration, and provided the whole team with a great point man, good interviewer, and unabashed advocate for equality.”