Alumni Leader in the Community
Naomi Shachter is a prime example of how Youth Community Service molds young people to become future community leaders. A former YCS member and volunteer, Naomi was able to use the values she learned with YCS as a model for her path growing up, which allowed her to become the person she is today.
Naomi’s service-learning journey began in 2001 in Palo Alto, CA. In the 6th grade, during Terman Middle School’s club day she noticed her math teacher sitting alone and decided to sign up for her club. “It turned out to be YCS and it turned out that I loved it,” said Naomi.
During her YCS involvement in middle school, Naomi was convinced she wasn’t “unbiased and without stereotypes.” However, through a YCS group activity, Naomi realized everyone carried latent racism. Understanding the type of person she is, she knew what direction she wanted to take going forward to consciously work on overcoming her biases and stereotypical thoughts. “It was around this time that I decided that I wanted to make a positive impact on the world with my life,” she exclaimed.
When she reached Gunn High School, she continued to be active in the YCS Club. Naomi joined the YCS Fellows Program, and she was a big part of creating and leading service days at Gunn. She particularly remembers learning to write professional emails, a skill she says has been crucial ever since.
Naomi became even more involved with YCS during her junior and senior years at Gunn, becoming co-president of the club the year they merged with Interact. Her proudest accomplishment as club president was not any particular event or service they performed. Rather, her accomplishment was leaving legacy of strong club leadership and continued success in the following years.
As successful and impactful Naomi’s work was to YCS, the real success and impact was the change in her perspective on the world, and her role within it. One day she was asked to present her work to the YCS board. She was eager to share the number of hours, members, money raised, and impact created by her work with the YCS club. Although, the board was interested in the work she had done, they were more interested in hearing about what Naomi had learned about herself. “I realized for the first time that I had been a recipient of service and that changing me was part of YCS’ mission,” said Naomi.
Naomi attended Stanford University knowing she wanted to be involved with service. At Stanford, she studied Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, with a focus in public service. Because of her experiences with YCS, Naomi was driven to study and engage with service more deeply and took service-learning classes every year.
The summer before her junior year of college, Naomi worked as a team leader for the YCS Summer of Service Program. Because of this experience, and decided to write her senior honors thesis on the civic identity development of diverse youth through a service-learning program. She conducted surveys and interviews to see how participants’ civic identities varied based on their race, neighborhood, and family income. Through this experience, Naomi learned a lot about service-learning research, and her thesis was ranked in the top 10% at Stanford University.
Immediately after graduating from Stanford with honors, Naomi joined AmeriCorps in Washington, D.C. to serve as an outreach coordinator. At the end of her year with AmeriCorps, she remained with Reading Partners as a senior volunteer manager and is now in the role of community engagement manager, managing a team of three AmeriCorps member and a corps of over 1000 weekly volunteers. “I use what I learned from YCS every day, and I feel confident that I wouldn’t be here without the hours and years I spent with YCS. Every day I wake up convinced that I can make a change in the world and that I can convince others to do the same,” stated Naomi.
A prime product of YCS’ mission, Naomi practices leadership and life skills every day in her life, showing empathy for the needs of others with a sense of connectedness, purpose, and efficacy. Naomi’s family, friends, mentors, and the YCS community couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments, and her willingness to spread the YCS vision across the world.