Participant Story: Ciera Marie Young

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“[T]he interconnections of Pittsburgh provide a catalyst for grassroots initiatives in the city.”
– Ciera Marie Young


When Ciera Marie Young graduated from Chatham University in 2014, she knew she wanted to find a place that could offer a supportive transition from college. She found that support in Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE). Ciera Marie serves at Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS), one of the first charter schools in Pittsburgh.

Sara Alvarez: Describe a typical day at your placement.

Ciera Marie Young: No day is the same at MACS. I wear many hats! I manage the social media accounts. I interact with donors. I work with the kids. I attend board meetings. I help out with lunch and breakfast. I write the newsletter.

Sara: What do you enjoy most about your placement?

Ciera Marie: I enjoy working with the students! I serve at the elementary and middle school. Each group of students has their own distinct characteristics. The elementary school students are more precocious and bubbly. Did you know that kids really do say the darnedest things? I love their energy! The middle school students are much more mature and I can discuss deeper topics with them. I also like speaking to them about life beyond middle school. I like seeing their gears turn when they think about the possibilities of their futures.

Sara: Why did you decide to apply for PULSE?

Ciera Marie: Although I attended college here, I felt like I didn’t know Pittsburgh at all. Also I wanted to learn more about the nonprofit sector while living with community oriented individuals.

Sara: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh this year?

Ciera Marie: I enjoyed attending the Children’s Museum with the MACS Elementary School. I think other patrons had a difficult time figuring out who was the chaperone… me or the kids?

Sara: Tell me about something you’ve learned about yourself through PULSE?

Ciera Marie: I am much more organized and extroverted than I thought I was.

Sara: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Ciera Marie: Definitely curry or sweet potato and black bean burritos.

Sara: What surprised you most so far about participating with PULSE and/or living in Pittsburgh?

Ciera Marie: Pittsburgh is more like a neighborhood than a city. The more people I meet, the more it feels like everyone knows everyone. I say this in a good way because the interconnections of Pittsburgh provide a catalyst for grassroots initiatives in the city.

Story by PULSE Alumna Sara Alvarez.

Read more stories about the participant experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.