Alumni Spotlight – An Interview with Sarsha Martin

(This interview is not a transcript and has been edited for clarity and time.)

My full name is Sarsha Martin and it’s Sasha [SAA-SHaa] with an R. I always tell everybody, and everyone always asks, “how do you pronounce your name?” and I say, “well I’m from Boston we don’t pronounce our “r’s”. So, it’s Sasha.”

What is your current professional position and organization?

Currently I am at Jumpstart [Jumpstart for Young Children, inc.]. I just started December 2020 and my official job title is HR [Human Resources] and Recruiting Associate. I am a recruiter; I help recruit new hires for any open positions at Jumpstart. I also work on a lot of the benefits that Jumpstart offers to its employees. I work with Blue Cross Blue Shield, paying in-voices, and any additional benefits that we offer I work with that as well, which is fun! I get a little bit of a mixture in my work-life, so I love it.

Though Sarsha is working in Human Resources now she started her career as a kindergarten paraprofessional.

It was so awesome because I started working at the school that I served Jumpstart for. It was great because I had a lot of my then preschoolers in my kindergarten classes that next year. I would tell everybody; “you know working with the children and education is something I hold dear to me.”. I told my students that their learning is what inspires me to keep learning. So, that is when I decided to go back to school full time, and obtain my master’s degree in Business Administration and that’s when I got my degree in HR. I am so glad to be with Jumpstart because it is like both of my passions put together with the HR world but for an organization that revolves around education and children.

Tell us if and how your service with Jumpstart impacted your personal and professional life.

I kind of touched on that in answering the last question but two things I feel Jumpstart offered me that I was able to carry with me throughout life is the ability to take on public speaking more. That is something I always feel I struggled with to this day. Now I take any opportunity I get to public speak which helps me to get over that struggle. The Second thing, especially with my position, is being in a leadership role. I had to learn to talk to people of all different age ranges and groups and in all aspects of the education world. Jumpstart was the first place that allowed me to take on a leadership role and grow as a leader. That is something I have, those skills I have taken with me in school, as I continued my schooling, and in my work. So, I am very grateful for Jumpstart teaching me and allowing me that opportunity.

Do you have any outstanding memories of working with the children on site that you would be willing to share?

I think my favorite memory is (…) My favorite thing is the relationships I’ve established with my children that I am able to still have to this day. I haven’t served with Jumpstart since 2016. I’m so grateful, I’m friends with the parents [of the children she taught] we text all the time. With some of the parents I’m able to do video chats with my kids and now they’re so grown. Actually, tomorrow I’m going to one of my student’s 9th birthday parties and I’m taking my niece and my puppy*, so I’m so grateful for those opportunities and the relationships that I feel I’ll have for a very long time. It’s all thanks to Jumpstart just helping me get my foot in the door. I think that is my favorite, not really a memory, but the memories that I have, lifelong memories.

Any advice or input for anyone thinking of serving with Jumpstart?

I would say even if you are not seeking to work with children in the future, it’s still a great opportunity to have because it teaches you so many skills. As I mentioned before it taught me how to be a better speaker it taught me leadership skills, it taught me how to be a more a creative thinker. I think people don’t really understand how good it is working with children (…) I remember when I was trying to make the career change from working with children to working in business. It doesn’t seem relatable, but it is because you need to know how to keep organized you need to know how to have things together, so you learn so many skills that relate to that.

Definitely another piece of advice would be to network especially with the AmeriCorps alumni, your corps members, your teachers. I was able to have so many opportunities and became friends with some of those teachers. The teacher whose classroom I served in I actually became her nanny when she had babies, her and my site manager were both my references for this job and when I was applying for grad school. And my corps members that I worked with; I wrote recommendations for them. You just never know where somebody is going to end up so it is just so good to network and being a part of an alumni such a strong community that my advice would be to you know, definitely take advantage of that.

Do you have anything you want to add?

The only thing I guess I would add is that. I love jumpstart, I believe in everything that they stand for and I am so happy to be back at Jumpstart in another aspect of it – more behind the scenes. It’s just so great. I want people to know the opportunities that you can have with Jumpstart like I said, now I can say I didn’t even need to work with children to have the job I have now, I’m in HR and recruiting but because of those opportunities of being with jumpstart, I was able to learn, grow, network, and now I’m in the position that I’m at now.

*Sarsha’s puppy is a toy poodle, she’s six months old.

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