From Volunteer to Fellow: Reflecting on My Reading Partners Fellowship Experience 

Back in college, I wanted to get more involved with my community and give back. I stumbled across a VolunteerMatch posting from Reading Partners. I went to volunteer at an elementary school in Queens. Every Thursday for about a year, I would trek to the school after college classes and work with a 7-year-old student who was sweet and sometimes got frustrated with the difficulties of learning something.

Fast forward to graduation time in 2018, my supervisor at Baruch College recommended an opportunity through the career portal at school. When I logged in to my account, I was surprised to find Reading Partners on the screen. I felt like I was coming back to a familiar place. This was the start of becoming part of a cohort of fellows and the start of my professional career.

At Reading Partners, I gained experience working with a multitude of elementary school students and supported their learning growth around their literacy skills. As a fellow, I was able to provide service to the schools in South Jamaica, Queens. My work also involved recruiting volunteers, which became an area of interest of mine, and I went to work for two other non-profit organizations in this area of work. I was a volunteer coordinator for three years after my fellowship experience and honed my skill set in this area.

Currently, I work as the Foundation Programs Coordinator at the ICSC Foundation. After working for three years in volunteer management, I wanted to pivot my next step in an area of non-profit that I had worked closely with but never taken a leadership role in. And I love it. I enjoy working with students as we connect them with scholarship and mentorship opportunities. I still work with volunteers, as it is key to our work. I hope to grow in the programmatic area of my work for years to come. Furthermore, I thank the fellowship for supporting my growth and my career as I progress in the landscape of mission-driven organizations.

Picture of Erika Apupalo

Erika Apupalo

Erika (she/her) is the Foundation Programs Coordinator at the ICSC Foundation. She was a Fellow at Reading Partners New York City from 2018-2020.