Walking around in Mr. Tran’s second period class, I catch the eye of one of my students. She gives me a blank look. I reciprocate with a smile. Instantaneously, she smiles and turns to her friend and loudly proclaims, “Ms. A is ALWAYS smilin’!” She then looks back at me and demands “Why are you always smilin’?” I look at her, tilt my head, shrug my shoulders, and simply say, “Because I am happy.”

Anyone who knows me could probably tell you that I have an inhuman amount of joy. I often surprise myself. Smiles come very easy to me and I am so grateful that I have so many things to smile about. I have been fortunate. I like to connect with the joy in other people. City Year allows me to make joyful connections with people of all walks of life. So, making connections is one reason that City Year is a good fit for me, but there is another reason. It’s important for my career goal.

I want to become a High School Biology Teacher. I found myself wondering: Do I have the heart for this? This is going to be my job; I need to know that it is what I what to do for the rest of my life. Am I going to be able to make teaching my passion? After two months in the classroom, I have found myself connecting with students in a strong and powerful way. They are bright and funny. They have quick wit, they are strong willed, and they are independent. I have the heart for this, because I love my students. I undeniably know that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, because there will always be students who want me to be there (even when they deny it). I am passionately dedicated to teaching because young people are worthy of my passion.

After my year of development, illumination and reflection with City Year, I plan to further my career as an educator. I am keeping my options open by applying for graduate schools to get my Master’s degree in math and science education, and I am looking for positions that allow me to work with young people in the area. Geographically, Sacramento is the perfect place for me. I am equidistant from my family, who live in Arnold, Calif., and most of my life-long friends, who live sprinkled throughout the Bay Area. My father, who is affectionately called Papa Steve, likes to say that I am within ‘striking distance’ from home. My roots live deep into the nitrogen-rich soil of Arnold, but my branches range far and strong.

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