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2018 Annual Report

The Howard 5

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The name “Howard University” brings to mind images of fabulous homecomings, vibrant Greek life, and the celebration of educated Black individuals. Hearing “Howard” also conjures visions of successful alumni like Thurgood Marshall, Taraji P. Henson, and Chadwick Boseman. In fall 2018, five BRYC Fellows embarked for Howard hoping to become part of the school’s storied narrative. Affectionately dubbed “The Howard Five,” Myles Gordon, Christalyn Hill, Jeanette Jackson, Malik Johnson, and Donovan Thomas have begun their journeys of fostering change in the world at The Howard University!

Starting freshman year, each of The Five wondered things like, “Will I have friends?…Thrive hundreds of miles away from home?…Receive the support I need for academic success?” Those fears were quelled from the moment they arrived on campus and experienced Howard’s rich learning environment and engaging instruction.

Myles complimented the university’s small classes and professors’ instructional techniques saying, “My professor asks a lot of questions, and we get to have a lot of discussions. They keep the students engaged.” He echoes the sentiments of thousands of students attending historically-Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, who appreciate the intimate and captivating environment. Many have noted that the smaller class sizes allow for dialogue that prompts students to consider a wide range of perspectives, preparing them to become impactful citizens post-college.

These College Fellows have also been moved by their peers. “Hearing what other people have accomplished pushes you to go out and try new stuff to build your character, résumé, and knowledge,” Christalyn said. “Everybody has been president of something or vice president or established their own club. It makes you feel like you’re not doing enough, but it pushes you as well.”

The Howard Five have also been inspired by two BRYC College Fellows in Howard’s Class of 2021, Armani Brown and Markelle Dunn. When asked about her experience, Armani said, “Going to an HBCU gives you the space to define and truly embody Black excellence. It’s almost like going to a cookout, but before the cookout, you have class.”

For its prestige and impressives students and faculty, Howard is compared to Ivy League schools, but there is a key difference. HBCUs – like Southern, Spelman, Bethune-Cookman, Howard, and many others – remind us that Black Americans had to fight and die for equal access to postsecondary education, and in so many ways that fight continues today. These institutions bring Black history and culture into focus and create spaces where students who are used to feeling marginalized feel valued and united. HBCUs highlight the incredible diversity between and among Black people while celebrating the intellectual and cultural power that bonds us. The Howard Five attest to being reminded of their strength as Black individualizes and have been inspired to pave the way for future students, as alumni have for them.

We look forward to seeing the impact The Howard Five will make as they join a legacy of College Fellows and Alumni who attend and have graduated from HBCUs across the country. More than that, we look for them to strengthen a tradition of Black postsecondary education that prepares students not just for professional excellence but also to become full participants in society.

All In

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by Tanielma Costa, Class of 2020

F or Alumna Beatrice “Bea” Kariuki, life is all about doing things you love to the fullest. She lives by this principle every day, and her college experience was no exception.

As a Kenyan immigrant who moved to the U.S. in 2011 during ninth grade, Bea had to quickly adjust to South Louisiana culture and a new school in Broadmoor High. She says that, from the beginning, she was determined to reach her dreams of college and understood the privilege she was given to study in the U.S. Most daunting for Bea was how uninformed she was about the American postsecondary education system. That’s where BRYC came in. “I had an idea of the things I wanted to do and where I wanted to be,” Bea said, “but BRYC was that catalyst I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. BRYC took that fear of not knowing what’s coming, and I’m very grateful for that.”

On BRYC’s 2013 Atlanta College Tour, Emory “felt like home,” and Bea decided to apply. She was accepted with a robust financial aid package but didn’t stop there, ultimately securing the highly coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship (now called the Gates Scholarship). From an applicant pool of tens of thousands nationwide, Bea was one of 300 to earn the full ride, which follows recipients to whichever colleges they choose to attend.

Bea plunged right into her four years at Emory. She graduated with a degree in neuroscience and behavioral biology, minoring in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Bea now works full-time in Atlanta as a business immigration analyst at a law f rm called Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

Bea urges Fellows not just to get involved on campus but to go all in. “My passions and interests paved the way for the things I ended up being involved in. Knowing things that interest you, knowing things that you’re passionate about motivates you to be involved in those organizations.”

Indeed she was immersed in a flurry of activities. Bea saw Emory as her playground to be explored. She speaks of how exhilarating the national Gates conventions in Washington, D.C. were and how they inspired her to take on the roles of vice president, and later, president of Emory’s Gates Scholars chapter. Protesting after the death of Trayvon Martin her freshman year led to many social justice-focused activities in and outside of school, like getting people to register to vote. Bea volunteered through a national service organization, served as president and vice president of the Resident Hall Association, and was a campus ambassador, leading tours and information sessions for prospective students and families. Perhaps her most beloved activity was volunteering at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta, which led to her summer abroad at University College London prior to her senior year. There she studied healthcare delivery in the United Kingdom and U.S.

I was exhausted just hearing about all Bea has done, but she said, “I wouldn’t take it back.” That’s because each experience was fulfilling and meaningful, just like my interview with Bea. As an immigrant, I’m inspired by her example.

A Man of Morehouse

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by Ivori Teasette

When I hear the phrase “A Man of Morehouse,” College Fellow JaMarcus Spears’ smiling face and effervescent personality come to mind. The oldest of six siblings, he sets a great example, at home and beyond. At Central High School, JaMarcus was an athletic trainer for the football and volleyball teams and also served as a student ambassador. His junior year, he was dead set on attending Howard University, but he ultimately landed at Morehouse, a top historically Black college, where he is majoring in biology with dreams of becoming a sports medicine physician for an NFL team.

Although a departure from Howard, Morehouse fits JaMarcus well. An all-male college, Morehouse has a rich legacy and unique campus environment which JaMarcus says he feels welcomed and at home in. Adapting to campus has not been a problem, as he did plenty of research before moving in.

I learned JaMarcus won’t become a “Morehouse Man” until he graduates. “I can’t tell you what it means to be a ‘Morehouse Man’ because I am not one yet,” JaMarcus said. “I am a ‘Man of Morehouse.’ Being a ‘Man of Morehouse’ means representing yourself very well and holding yourself to high standards. We don’t settle, and we don’t give up. As a ‘Man of Morehouse’, it is our mission to become active, ethical leaders in our communities while uplifting the people around us.”

JaMarcus gives BRYC a lot of credit for his personal development despite joining in 2017 at the beginning of his senior year, later in high school than most Fellows do. That year his schedule allowed him to be fully committed to the program’s heavy demands. He said BRYC gave him a space where he could learn to be himself at all times, which came in handy when he learned he would not be progressing as a finalist for the Gates Scholarship. When he found out he would not advance, his first reaction was sadness, of course, but he later realized God had better things in store for him and that it was not the end of the world. With the BRYC Team and Fellows there to comfort him, he kept pushing forward, remembering setbacks are necessary parts of pursuing greatness.

Jermaine and Jada are the next Spearses to be Fellows, joining an organization whose value JaMarcus very much believes in. “It is very important for students to begin to get invested in programs like BRYC because that investment is an investment in your life. BRYC is here for our betterment, not just academically but physically and mentally as well. The amount of resources that BRYC offers is needed in the world today for our youth.”

BRYC has made such a strong impression on JaMarcus that he wants to launch a similar initiative one day. It’s no surprise he is one of our most engaged College Fellows, a special person I expect will accomplish big things in the future.

A Legacy of Leadership

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by Lucas Spielfogel

When I met our first official class of Freshmen Fellows in the fall of 2014, I remember thinking they were so young, that it would be an eternity before I wished them good luck in college. A blink and four years later, the group that exemplified BRYC Fellowship has matriculated to colleges across the state and nation.

This powerhouse of a cohort entered BRYC at a time when I was rethinking what the organization should mean to its young people. As we grew, that year to 100 Fellows, I wondered how we would be able to serve more and more youth while maintaining the intimate sense of community which was lauded as BRYC’s secret sauce. The answer was Fellow engagement. Our youth had to own BRYC, and these bold freshmen were fit to lead that charge.

The original members of the Class of 2018 embodied the Empowering Choice “show up for BRYC.” Programs, parties, trips, special initiatives, it didn’t matter. They were present in full force and vocal about their peers needing to do the same – to be proud of being Fellows, to contribute as least as much as you reap and leave BRYC in better shape than you found it. They did that and then some. Theirs is a legacy of leadership.

Our first four-years gave us the confidence to see BRYC as a community whose collective impact is far greater than the sum of its college-preparatory resources. Rather, its power is its people – its young people most of all. It’s fitting we would send these leaders off as we prepare to celebrate our ten-year anniversary. Their tenure defined BRYC and will inform our next decade. We are grateful for them and don’t doubt what their influence will be in college and beyond.

The inaugural legacy rings given out at our annual Fellowship Banquet

Legacy Rings

At the 2018 Fellowship Banquet, BRYC introduced a new tradition, “legacy rings,” to honor our first official group of four-year Fellows. We hope these rings forever remind four-years of our appreciation for their long-term commitment to and impact on BRYC.