Darryll Lim is an AmeriCorps Team Leader at Carver Middle School in South Los Angeles, overseeing a team of eight AmeriCorps members. Darryll is a University of Calif., Santa Barbara alum and is in the third year of his AmeriCorps journey. Below he tells us a little more about what drives him.

Throughout my education, I was fortunate enough to have a strong family support system that instilled in me the importance and value of a good education. Similarly, in high school and college I met incredible individuals, many of whom became my mentors both academically and life in general. With their support and guidance, I found success by overcoming obstacles that taught me valuable life lessons, and they all inspired me to become a mentor myself.

Before City Year

During my third year of college, I found out that my college friend Kim Tolentino (pictured below) was working for an organization called City Year. The organization’s mission and purpose of making a difference in the lives of future leaders aligned with my personal values and beliefs. Additionally, Kim's experience is what motivated me to apply. A few months after my acceptance into the '14-'15 City Year corps, I visited Kim at 122nd Street Elementary School where she was a team leader. During my visit, I interacted with students in the afterschool program and after a few short hours, I knew that I had found my calling.

City Year One

My first year as an AmeriCorps Member at Samuel Gompers Middle School in Watts was challenging and definitely one of the toughest years I had experienced; nonetheless, my 10 months of service in the Watts community was humbling and fulfilling. The students I worked with impacted my life in ways I never would have imagined. They faced many adversities in their lives, but their resiliency to come to school every day, and their optimism for a better future, motivated me to be fully present. It was my purpose to provide them the academic and socio-emotional support they needed.

One student I worked with would only come to school once or twice a week. Every week I attempted to set attendance goals with her, but I felt like my words would go in through one ear and out the other. With patience and persistence, we were able to turn things around. I still remember tell her, “There’s only two months of school left, and I believe that you can come to school every day for the rest of the year.” At the time, I was unsure this conversation would stick with her. After two weeks, she had only missed two days. When I visited her at Gompers this past school year, I found out she had only missed three days throughout the year.

City Year Two

The growth I witnessed in the students I worked with at Gompers inspired me to come back as a Second-Year AmeriCorps Member at George Washington Carver Middle School in South Los Angeles. While the communities may be different, students experienced very similar challenges, and their strength to persevere strengthened my belief in the power of young people.

One student I worked with started the school year at Carver coming to class tired, slouched in his seat, looking at the ceiling, and not wanting to do any work. I was not sure what was going on, but I knew he had potential that had yet to be harnessed. During our math class, I asked him to come outside with me to have a conversation so I could understand what was holding him back. I asked him one question, “Did you have breakfast this morning?” He quickly replied, “No.” This conversation ended with him making a goal to speak with his mother over the weekend about having breakfast before school. When we came back to school Monday, I noticed that he was sitting up in his seat, paying attention, and doing his work. I approached him during class, and asked again, “Did you have breakfast this morning?” This time, he replied, “Yes.” As the school year progressed, so did he. He worked hard to complete his assignments and took the initiative to be successful with his education. 

City Year Three & Beyond

When I joined City Year, a career in education was not something I imagined for myself. However, witnessing the academic and socio-emotional transformations of the students at Gompers and Carver Middle Schools, has cemented my passion for service. Our students have taught me that service to a cause greater than self means finding joy in the work you do, even if you discover it unexpectedly. Helping others and making a difference will forever guide my life.

As I enter my third year with City Year as an AmeriCorps Team Leader, I serve to provide our students with the mentorship and support system that I was fortunate enough to receive in my education. I serve to show our students that their voices are heard because they matter. I serve because my belief in the power of young people is my hope for a better society.


If you enjoyed this story please check out:

Idealism in Education: A City Year 'Starfish Story'

"The memories I have of Gompers almost bring me to tears, for their joy and their pain."

Team Leader Feature: Students first, collaboration always

AmeriCorps Co-Team Leaders Melanie and "Dolo" are united in service in more ways than one.

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