UW Alum Shares her City Year Experience

Ms. Shaye, aka Shaye Villanueva, is a UW alumni from the class of 2018 and like many college students, as graduation approached, she did not know what her next move was going to be — that was until she discovered City Year. If you have a passion for making a real and purposeful impact on the world, City Year can help take your gap year to the next level by serving as a full-time tutor, mentor and role model. Their next application deadline to serve for the 2020-2021 school year is April 17th. Click here to apply. 

Below is Ms. Shaye’s experience with City Year in her own words. You can also watch a video that features Ms. Shaye here.

I always loved working with kids. In middle school and high school, I helped out with a soccer program geared towards 4-8 year old players. In college, I volunteered in an elementary school’s afterschool program for a whole semester and also worked girls’ summer soccer camps every summer. Yet, as graduation creeped up slowly, I had no idea what my next step would be. LinkedIn was my best friend. What did I want to do? At the time, I had absolutely no idea. One day, I got an email from one of the athletic academic advisors at UW saying that a company called “City Year” was hiring. I started doing research on City Year immediately because a small blurb that I read said that they work with students. I quickly discovered that this is what I want my next step to be. After getting the job, being placed in a school, and meeting my students, I was certain that this was what I was supposed to be doing. The crazy thing about working with kids is that I’m supposed to be teaching them right? That’s what they think too, but in actuality, my 4th grade class definitely taught me more than I taught them. I found my passion and I thank my kids and City Year for that.

The impact that my students and City Year had on my life will always have a special place in my heart. Not only was I able to fill my resume up with incredible experiences offered by City Year that I took advantage of, I was able to fill my soul up with incredible memories. Despite 50 hour weeks, living on a stipend, and being tired constantly, I wouldn’t trade my 11 months of service for anything. I learned valuable lessons like patience, perseverance, empathy, self-care, and understanding, all while fueling my passion of working with students.

Currently, I work with a non-profit called Friends of the Children. A company that I learned about at one of “Life After City Year” professional development days. I remember sitting down, learning about what Friends was about and thinking that this is what I want to do. With the tools that my students gave me and the opportunities that City Year offered, I was able to take that leap where I landed as a Professional Teen Mentor at Friends of the Children.



By Mattie Bess
Mattie Bess Employer Relations Manager Mattie Bess