From Wheelock to the Working World

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Being tough enough to keep inspiring a world of good

As a student at Wheelock College, every course, activity, club and event run with the undercurrent of improving the lives of others. Though I didn’t follow the route of a professional major, I was always drawn to this mission and in my time at Wheelock it evolved into my own personal mission, as I’m sure it does for many students. It was through my internship senior year that I found that I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector, and every step I’ve taken since has been a natural extension of my years in college.

Though it was wrought with art classes, nights in the studio and frequent trips to the neighborhood Blick, the bulk of my years at Wheelock also involved service learning. The partnerships Wheelock had cultivated in both service terms and placements drew me in to the world of nonprofits, and this influenced my ideas of what my leap into the real world would look like. From Jumpstart to my service learning trips that introduced me to St. Bernard Project, I was able to see how a Wheelock mindset of improving the lives of children and families could move beyond the classroom. An internship at Gateway Arts showed me how the worlds or art and nonprofits could be married and do well. For me, the notion of doing something for others- from reading with three year olds to re-building homes for a city to taking an elderly artist for her midmorning coffee- was what showed me the way to this service-based life.

The August after I graduated, I walked into the idealistic doors of City Year Boston. With Ubuntu embedded in the walls and excited young people abound (and a few familiar faces whom were also Wheelock alums), I found my perfect next step. I had an intense ten months of service in a school in Roxbury, but despite the challenges, I saw my team make a difference in the lives of many middle school students, and the impression that the corps member experience left on me is not one I will ever forget.  The mission of serving others I had been oriented to at Wheelock live on here, and I knew as my year of service came to a close that this mission should only continue.

From Wheelock, to City Year, to Boston Partners in Education- the nonprofit I work for today, I have lucky enough to spend the first few years of life as an adult doing what I can to make this world better. It’s been great to be able to serve more people than I could do on my own through Jumpstart or City Year. And in some ways, this is the type of work Wheelock prepares you for: it’s a training ground for those who love to teach, and whom are really working to develop the minds of their students. Though this preparation oftentimes leads to a new crop of teachers it can also lead to other types of service, much like what I’m doing in a nonprofit today.

Wheelock is a school with a mission that courses through your veins even after you’re gone. It’s a school for those who can make a real difference, and want to. And no matter what you find yourself doing on that small strip of the Riverway, I have no doubts that it will inspire a world of good.

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ashley leeAshley Lee graduated Wheelock College in 2012. She majored in Visual Art and minored in Psychology and Women’s Studies, and now works for a Boston area nonprofit. She is an avid crafter, reader, and hopes to be a change agent in the city of Boston for some time to come. She has previously written about how to make the most of one’s liberal arts degree while job huntingConnect with her on Twitter.

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