A reflection by Executive Director, Pamela Civins

Being sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, 1991.

Being sworn in as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, 1991.

Taking the stage at Boston Partners’ Big Cheese Reads Gala, 2014.

Taking the stage at Boston Partners’ Big Cheese Reads Gala, 2014.

When I was growing up, I didn’t really volunteer for anything. I worked from the time I was 14 years old, and was always looking to earn a little bit of money. At that time it all went towards buying record albums — vinyl — and to this day, I have a pretty good collection.

I had a friend in college who joined the U.S. Peace Corps, which intrigued me. Two years of volunteer service in another country, described as the “toughest job you’ll ever love.” I wanted something different than anything I had ever experienced. I graduated from the University of Colorado – Boulder with a B.A. degree and picked up an application for the Peace Corps during my final days on campus. I held onto that application for three years. Finally, when I was 25 years old, I decided it was now or never — apply for Peace Corps or forget about it. I applied.

That decision changed my life. I found my personal and professional path from 1991-1993 in a small village in Nepal’s Terai region. I figured out who I was and what I wanted in life. I positively affected others around me. I became passionate for everyone’s right to a quality education. From that point on, I became an advocate for giving back to my community.

Now I am going back to Nepal in October to reconnect, re-energize and reflect on the last 25 years of my life. It’s a privilege to have the time to make this trip. Today is my final day in the office until I return on December 1, 2015. Our Board of Directors has granted me a two-month long sabbatical.

During my time away from the office, I will be reflecting on how I arrived at Boston Partners in Education and why I have stayed with this wonderful nonprofit organization for 10 years and counting. I can retrace my personal and professional journey. I am who I am today because of the path I chose – and sometimes fell into – over the years.

While I will miss my colleagues and miss knowing what is happening with our students, teachers and academic mentors over the next two months, I know it is time to make this trip.

I look forward to coming back refreshed and ready to take Boston Partners in Education into our fiftieth year of service in 2016 – 2017. This will be a year of celebration. A chance to look back at our history, as well as to look forward, continuing our journey of supporting students in the Boston Public Schools.

We will recognize members of our Boston community – students, teachers, and our very special volunteer academic mentors – who have made us a part of their life’s journey. Thousands have been involved and hundreds are currently involved in helping K-12 students improve their academic achievement, accelerate their personal growth, and ultimately, stay in school and graduate on time.

I challenge anyone reading this post to make us a part of your life journey. Volunteer and get involved providing academic mentoring support to a young Bostonian. If you are a school administrator or teacher, nominate a student(s) who will benefit from working with an academic mentor. Get involved, give back and learn more than you thought possible about what matters most to you. Become an academic mentor and make an impact on students in the Boston Public Schools, your neighborhood, our City, and ultimately, the world!