Last month Tom Story wrote the first installment in his Alumni Spotlight series. Although Tom has transitioned into a role as Team Leader at the Burke High School, he was able to complete this September Alumni Spotlight that focuses on Alumni Board chair, Laxmi Krishnan Tierney, who continues to maintain close ties with the City Year community.
“All social change depends on individuals who declare themselves to be ready, who step forward and take initiative, who volunteer to take on the tasks at hand.” – PITW #173, I’m Ready, Choose Me.
Born and raised in New Brighton, Minnesota, City Year Alumni Board Chair Laxmi Krishnan Tierney found her love of service in middle school and high school. Serving largely within her own community, Laxmi did not know much beyond its boundaries. “I didn’t get to see how many issues there were [in our nation],” she told me. It was during her time at the University of Minnesota that she continued to volunteer more. She fell in love with the University YMCA and with her service experience at afterschool programs in Minneapolis schools. It was also while attending the University of Minnesota that a friend told her about City Year.
After graduating from college with a degree in psychology and physiology, Laxmi headed to Boston because she wanted to try “something new.” It was there that she served with City Year Boston as a literacy tutor at the Condon Elementary School, and before City Year’s focus was primarily on the Whole School Whole Child reform model, she also served at an afterschool homework club run by the Boys and Girls Club in South Boston. Laxmi remarks, “I think most people come to City Year to help a community, to change the world.” But everyone, including Laxmi, seems to leave fundamentally changed. “City Year helped me understand how complex the issues [our nation faces] are,” she said. Arriving in Boston, far from her home and community of New Brighton, Minnesota, Laxmi discovered a nation in need. As she continued her service with City Year Boston as a senior corps member in the very school where she had served her corps year, her worldview only continued to change. “City Year helped me gain perspective…I saw how much work needs to be done.”
Upon completing her second year of service with City Year Boston, Laxmi began work at Massachusetts General Hospital as a Clinical Research Coordinator because she wanted more experience in the health sector. She only continued to be shaped by her work as she met even more challenges in the medical field. After three years at Massachusetts General Hospital, Laxmi realized one thing: “I didn’t want to be a doctor—I wanted to work to change the healthcare system,” and she returned to school at Brandeis University where she completed her first year studying public policy in 2010.
However, Laxmi hadn’t forgotten about City Year. “I still wanted to be involved, just at a greater level.” She became the Chair of the City Year Alumni Board, which includes 12 other City Year alumni. The Alumni Board works to keep alumni in Boston connected to City Year beyond their year of service and organizes various events throughout the year to bring alumni and corps members together for networking opportunities. With help from other alumni, Laxmi hopes to prepare corps members for their lives after City Year as they become a part of the greater City Year movement.