Rising Sophomores and Juniors Wanted to Be Next Steps AmeriCorps Mentors

By Ashley Knueppel | May 2, 2023

The Next Steps AmeriCorps program is currently recruiting mentors for the 2023-2024 school year. Next Steps AmeriCorps Mentors are students who engage in community service, mentoring, supportive workshops, and leadership development. This program is an amazing way to give back to your local community, receive funding to assist with college and life expenses, and mentor young students! 

We sat down with Mentor Amy Cruz and asked about her time in the program this year. 

Interested in joining great students like Amy? You can apply here or email Next Steps AmeriCorps Team Leader Viviana Santos at santosv@arcadia.edu. The program begins in the fall semester.

Amy Cruz '23

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Amy Cruz, I am from Northeast Philadelphia and I have 12 older siblings in my family. I have 3 dogs, a Shih Tzu named Kiwi, a mastiff named Romeo, and a Shiba Inu named Foxy. I am a first generation college student, with a major in Spanish and a minor in Public Health. I am the president of the Latine Society. 

What is Next Steps in your own words?

Next Steps is a community of individuals who go out and give back to the community through volunteering in different places of their choosing and trying to make a difference in the lives of those we help.

How did you find out about the Next Steps Mentorship Program? Why did you apply?

I learned about it thanks to the previous team leader. His name was Jake, and he was my mentor and my friend. I joined because I wanted to give back to the community and I wanted to challenge myself with the role of being a mentor in order to help me step out of my comfort zone.

What does a normal day as a Next Steps Mentor look like?

I go to my volunteer site, which is Glenside Elementary. I start at 9 a.m. and I leave at 1:45 or 2 p.m. depending on my schedule. After that I go to help my team leader Viviana Santos with our newsletter from about 4 to 6 p.m. In our newsletter, we update the other mentors on any additional volunteer services they can do, upcoming professional development opportunities, and more. 

Tell us more about your community-based work placement

I volunteer at Glenside Elementary where I am placed in two different spots. The first one is the library in the school where I help the students read books and help them understand the plot of the books they are reading. The second spot I am placed in is Kindergarten where I help the students with their reading and math.  

What do you like most about your placement?

I love to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they are able to understand what they are reading or solving a math problem. I always get excited when I see them run up to me eager to learn something new and ask me to help them with it.

What does mentorship look like to you?

Being a mentor is someone who will help guide you, and help you figure out what tips and tricks will get you by in life or college. 

What advice do you have for students interested in joining Next Steps?

I feel like if you are able to do community service and find joy in giving back to your community this will be a huge benefit to anyone who wants to join. The way I was able to fit this in my schedule was by taking the day I have the least amount of classes and doing 4-5 hours two days a week or more if my schedule cleared up. I also volunteered on days I didn’t have school or if I was on break. One thing that was helpful was having a meeting with my team leader to make sure that I was staying on task with my service. One thing I found surprising was how many new people I was able to meet thanks to this program. 

What impact has this program had on you?

This program has helped me improve my time management skills as well as helping me to come out of my shell and become more social. Thanks to this program I was able to continue my studies and I will be able to graduate next month due to this program’s support. 

What do you want to do after you graduate?

I applied to be the next team leader for Next Steps to be able to leave my knowledge on anyone who wants to apply next year. I also plan on going back to school to get my master’s degree in Public Health.