Kyle Reed is one of City Year Tulsa’s founding alumni. While his decision to serve is what first brought him to Tulsa, many of our corps members still see and work with him today.
So, we wanted to check back in with Kyle to learn a little about his City Year experience and see how he’s doing now.
A Little About Your Service
Q: What Year(s) did you serve with City Year Tulsa?
A: I served as a founding-year AmeriCorps Member in the 2014 – 2015 school year.
Q: What School Team(s) did you serve on during your service?
A: I proudly served on the Sequoyah Elementary Team.
Q: Why did you choose to serve in Tulsa?
A: I like to think Tulsa chose me! But I also really liked Tulsa’s vibe.
It’s hard to explain but Tulsa just has a very unique and eclectic vibe. It’s got that city with a small town feel. It has a thriving arts and music scene. The people are proud and invested in the City’s development, and it has multiple networks of young professionals which make Tulsa a very forward thinking city.
Q: What, if any, engagement did you have with the Tulsa community outside of City Year service (other community organizations, univ./colleges, professional/social clubs, etc.)?
A: I directed some theatrical productions with the Tulsa Spotlight Children’s Theatre co. and the Broken Arrow Community Playhouse.
Q: Tell us a little bit about what you remember most about your service?
A: I remember the community service projects and volunteer days like Day of Caring and MLK Day.
I’m proud of the work we did and that I got to plant trees and paint murals at my school, as well as getting to volunteer with various organizations around Tulsa.
Q: What was the most challenging part of your service?
A: PT! But honestly, it was finding a healthy balance between the long hours and having time to pursue personal interests.
I just did my best to make time for the things I wanted to do and sacrifice things that weren’t as important. I also did my best to have a simple daily routine to give me a sense of structure.
The best tip I can share is to “bookend” your days, by which I mean have a morning and evening ritual. Something that is personally fulfilling. Maybe read or meditate for a short time in the morning or evening. This personal ritual gives you something to look forward to and gives you a sense of balance to start and end the day.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of your service?
A: It’s cliché but the most rewarding part of my service is knowing that I made a positive impact on students. I occasionally run into some of my kiddos, their siblings and other family members and it feels good to be recognized and appreciated.
I recently attended the Success Bound event that City Year Tulsa hosted and a student approached me and said that he remembered me from City Year. He was not one of my students nor even in the grade I served, but he remembered me and apparently we’d had an interaction that made a positive impression on him that I don’t even remember!
It’s interesting to think about how some of the seemingly insignificant interactions that we have with people leave an indelible impression on them that to us may go unnoticed or be forgotten.
Q: What advice would you give ACMs on how to make the most of their service year(s)?
A: Steer into the skid. Let’s be real; the service is tough. It’s challenging and stressful, but the struggle spurs growth.
I learned what it was I wanted out of my life and career based on the struggles I faced during my service. So, be ruthless in assessing yourself, your desires and your values, then take what you learn and do something meaningful with it.
A Little About Your Current Work & Life
Q: So, tell us a little bit about what you’ve done after your service?
A: Well, immediately after finishing my City Year service I needed to take some personal time to recharge so I worked in a remote mining town in Alaska for a summer. I then returned refreshed and did two more years of AmeriCorps service with Reading Partners before taking on my current role as a Director with the YMCA.
Q: Do you still live in Tulsa? If, so what made you want to stay in the area?
A: I still live in Tulsa because I love how philanthropic the city is and I’m personally invested in the community because of the service I’ve done here and the people I’ve connected with. The cheap cost of living and short commute time doesn’t hurt either!
Q: What are you currently working on/now doing professionally?
A: I’m currently directing after-school as well as our summer programming at Sequoyah Elementary. Coincidentally, it’s the same school I served at while with City Year.
Q: What, if any engagement, do you still have with City Year as an alumnus?
A: I don’t engage with City Year as much as I’d like, but I do get the pleasure of still working with the Sequoyah City Year Team for our after-school program (hey guys!) and I also like to hire on Corps members for our summer program so they can get some experience and build up their resumes (hint hint).
Q: How did serving with City Year help you grow/develop professionally?
A: Serving with City Year helped me develop a strong foundation of various professional skills that I am still building on today.
I learned about team dynamics and why team culture is important to an organization. As the Math & ELA Coordinator I got the chance to do project management and develop leadership acumen.
From working with my kiddos, I learned how to resolve conflict with compassion. From working with teachers and families, I honed my interpersonal skills and developed a deeper sense of empathy and understanding for people. And, from the volunteer opportunities I learned the importance of partnerships and why inter-organizational collaboration is crucial in the work we do.
What professional advice would you give our AmeriCorps Members
Q: How can they develop themselves professionally during their year of service?
A: Take responsibility for your professional development by taking full advantage of the professional development opportunities City Year gives you. Engage in the activities, speak up during discussions and do something with the knowledge you gain.
Q: How can prepare/transition from City Year service into the professional realm
A: Build relationships. Making genuine connections with people is an extremely valuable and rewarding skill and it’s especially important in the work that we do.
Connect with the people you partner or volunteer with, and not just for the sake of networking and the hope that they will get you a job in the future, but because people matter. Jobs and opportunities will come to those who do good work and build meaningful relationships.
Q: Finding educational/professional opportunities through City?
A: Tulsa is a city that is committed to training its young professionals, especially those who work in nonprofit.
There are numerous organizations that have professional development classes and programs. Plug into these networks and start participating.
And, pay special attention to the professional development programs and events offered by the Tulsa Area United Way and the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofit, as well as networking associations like the Tulsa Young Professionals (TYPros).