Niasia Kennedy

Question: Describe your career/ professional path since completing your year of service.

Response: College Student Affairs, M.Ed

Question: Tell us a little bit about the impact a year of service has had on your life. 

Response: Throughout my time at Great Oaks, I was able to create everlasting relationships with my students while building community. Additionally, the year of service served as a stepping stone for me to enter the field of education. I have recently transitioned to higher education, nevertheless, have experience serving underrepresented areas to achieve a greater goal. My focus is to continue serving students who look like me, in hopes they will be in a position like me. 

Question: How did your year(s) of service prepare you for your current role? What skills were you able to take away and apply to your current career?

Response: My year of service prepared me for my current role by dealing with large staff dynamics, and understanding how support looks different for every student. As mentioned before, my role currently deals with college students. It was my time served at Great Oaks Legacy that allowed me to gain experience building students holistically and transforming educational spaces. 

Question: What impacted you most during your year(s) of service? 

Response: What impacted me the most during my year of service was the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a time where human compassion was needed the most, but also showed me the dedication of educators. The role and day-to-day life for educators, especially during this time, is often overlooked. 

Question: What attributes do you think make a successful Fellow? Why?

Response: Some attributes that I think make a successful Fellow are being personable, as well as approachable. Many students are looking for a role model figure and your role extends wider than working typical school hours. You have to be flexible in this role, as well as compassionate. If your compassion does not show, students will be able to pick up on that. You definitely want to come into this role willing to learn, understanding that you will not know everything. Having these attributes will make you a successful fellow. 


Question: Talk a little bit about the challenges you faced during your year(s) of service and how you managed to persevere. 

Response: A challenge I faced during my year of service was the fear of not knowing. The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and sets everyone back in some way. We all had to roll with the punches and create strategies with fewer resources to ensure student academic success. Instead of having poor interactions with other fellows because of the frustration of not knowing, I made it my mission to have meaningful interactions. Additionally, throughout my time at Great Oaks I was able to persevere by remembering the main goal and keeping a smile on my face.

Question: What advice would you offer to incoming members? 

Response: I would advise incoming members to remain optimistic and know that nothing is easy. I would encourage them to truly understand the area they are teaching and the culture. I would even challenge them, if coming from a privileged background, to acknowledge their privilege before interacting with students. If you do not have a love for building community, it will grow during your fellowship. 


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