Passing along Knowledge

Elaine at SOS in 2015

Youth Community Service is known for teaching life and leadership skills through service-learning experiences. Elaine Chen, a former YCS student, and current YCS Summer of Service Program Director, is an example of the impact of service-learning on both educational and professional goals.

Elaine recently completed her graduate studies in counseling, school psychology and behavioral analysis at San Diego State University.  Her journey began when she was in the 6th grade at Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto. Elaine learned about YCS through one of her closest friends. Her friend invited her to a club meeting to learn more about the organization, and though it took little convincing by her friend to join the club, Elaine became a member.

As a freshman at Palo Alto High School, Elaine joined the Fellows Program and the Palo Alto High School YCS Club. During her junior and senior years, Elaine co-led the YCS Club and helped raised over $10,000 for Doctors Without Borders through a school-wide Winter Formal Dance. Elaine organized a school-wide canned food drive, that over a two-year time period collected and donated over 30,000 pounds of food to the Second Harvest Food Bank. She also helped start the first annual Palo Alto High School Service Day.

With YCS support, Elaine developed literacy programs for local libraries in Palo Alto, and presented professional workshops for various local and regional professional conferences. Before entering college, Elaine was a service-learning intern for YCS and also began working with the YCS Summer of Service Director and Service Learning Director to create meaningful service projects for middle and high school students. “Thus, when choosing a career it was a no brainer that I wanted to serve as a positive role model for other students as well,” said Elaine.

Elaine ChenElaine carried over her service-learning passion into college. She received a B.A. in Psychology and Global Studies from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. She then obtained an M.A. in Education, with an emphasis in Counseling from San Diego State University. She just completed her internship as a school psychologist for the San Francisco Unified School District, as well as her Ed.S. in School Psychology, and her certification to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).  “In my training to become an educator (school psychologist), I always fall back on the unconditional compassion and empathy shown to me by those who committed their lives building up the future generations of our country at YCS,” said Elaine.

Elaine will continue to strive as an educator for future generations to come. Using the skills and values she learned with YCS, Elaine will pass along those ideas to provide a sense of purpose and meaning to underserved and under-represented communities.