Samantha Torres, class of 2014, did maintenance at the Common Ground site, worked as a camp counselor, planted trees with the Urban Resources Initiative, worked for CitySeed, and interned with The Nature Conservancy in Vermont. Since graduating, Sam has worked at many different stores and other places, and is now working at Walmart.

Sam Torres, right, helps to paint New Haven’s mobile farm market, jointly operated by CitySeed and Common Ground.

Preparing for life.

It made me prepared for what my work life was going to be. I had a lot of experience with the environment, and with other things too, and it helped me a lot… It didn’t necessarily have to be about planting trees, it didn’t necessarily have to be about taking care of kids, it had a lot to do with preparing me for– no matter how tough the job is– I was still there.”

The money matters.

Not a lot of kids that I know had that opportunity to work while they were in high school, and it helped me a lot money-wise.” Sam later elaborated on the impact of the money she earned, saying, “at one point, my mother and my father didn’t have to buy me stuff for school like books and clothes and shoes. I felt like it helped me mature a lot better, it helped me depend on myself a lot more and know that, when I do get out of high school, I can’t depend on my parents. It helped me be a better person in the aspect of where my money goes, or how I spend my money.

Changing my perspective on the planet.

It really changed my perspective on myself, because while I was in that process of learning you learn about so much, we even learned about birds, different kinds of birds, and trees, and how the earth can be impacted. A lot of little things like… what caused this tree to go rotten or what caused this invasive species to be here… To this day, I still use a lot of the information that I learned about the environment itself.

Getting out of my comfort zone.

No matter how scared I was or how nervous I was, they made it so fun that I got out of my comfort zone. And it prepared me for life outside, because it wasn’t easy jobs… but the fact that they made it fun and made me comfortable, is the best part of it. We also had a lot of fun. the people were so cool and they didn’t always take things seriously… I remember I was always laughing and having good times with the people I worked with or with the adults that were teaching us these things. It was a really good experience.

This Green Jobs Corps alumni profile is written by Marisa Vargas-Morawetz, who worked as a Yale Presidential Public Service Intern with Common Ground in summer 2017. Read more about what Marisa learned by talking to Green Jobs Corps program alumni, and meet other program alumni.