Five Days, Eight Schools: BRYC Takes Florida

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Story by Nyla Gayle, Class of 2022

Each year BRYC takes its Fellows on college tours both in and out of state to help expose us to schools we would not normally have the opportunity to visit. Over this year’s Mardi Gras break, from February 28 to March 4, a group of 29 Fellows and five BRYC team members traveled through Florida visiting eight colleges and universities: Eckerd College, Florida A&M University, Florida State University, Rollins College, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of South Florida, and University of Tampa.

Days 1-2

We kicked off the Florida College Tour with the 10-hour bus ride from BRYC to Tampa. After a day full of traveling, we turned in early to prepare for our first day of school visits. That Friday we visited the University of South Florida, then my personal favorite, the University of Tampa, and lastly, Eckerd College.

Sophomore Fellow Roshad Charles’ favorite school on the trip was also the University of Tampa because our tour guide, Nick, explained how easy it is for freshmen to get involved on campus.

Zion Guerin (Baker ’19) and Josephine Adeola (Lee ’19)

Eckerd College also stood out because its students are not required to wear shoes on campus, except, of course, in science labs and dining establishments. All the schools we saw on this first day of campus visits were predominately white institutions, or PWIs, but representatives at each campus mentioned their school’s commitment to diversifying their student bodies. At Eckerd we were able to talk with a panel of students in the Afro-American Society who explained some of the struggles they faced as students of color at PWIs. Roshad said he could see himself joining an organization similar to the Afro-American Society once he gets to college.

Day 3

On day three we traveled to Rollins College and the University of Central Florida. These schools are also PWIs, and Rollins is a private institution. The University of Central Florida seemed like the biggest institution we saw on the trip. Once again we got the opportunity to speak to a panel of students and ask them about their experiences. The chaperones allowed us to be 100 percent honest with our questions by leaving the room while we got down to business. Senior Fellow Josephine Adeola said, “I feel like the panel did help me to see an African-American’s experience at a PWI.” Following the panel, those same students took us on a campus tour. After our campus tours, we left Tampa and went up to Orlando, where we checked into our second hotel. Later that day, we relaxed at Disney Springs, which is a large area with multiple restaurants and ample shopping; it was also an extremely pretty venue.

Day 4

Jayla Burrell (West Feliciana ’22) visiting the University of Florida

Day four started by bussing to Gainesville, where we visited the University of Florida. We had a great campus tour and even got to visit The Swamp, UF’s famous football stadium. After finishing the tour, we checked into our third hotel and then went bowling, where we were disappointingly defeated by the adults.

Day 5

On the fifth and final day, we first attended Florida State University, where we got the chance to go to their Center for Leadership and Social Change. There we did activities to explore different aspects of our identities, such as race, ethnicity, and sexuality and discover our tendencies to associate certain demographics with particular professions. For example, when they asked us about race in medicine, most of us revealed that we think of doctors as being African-American or white. We were also able to talk with and ask questions of some of the students involved with the center.

Next we attended our first historically-Black college and university, or HBCU, of the tour, which was Florida A&M University. Both Josephine and Roshad said they could see themselves applying to this university. “FAMU brought a different vibe that I can relate to,” Josephine said, adding “the environment seems more friendly.” I have to say, out of all the colleges, FAMU did have the best food, and the company wasn’t bad either, as we were able to visit with College Fellow Christian Brinson and pepper him with questions about his experience there. This visit also made clearer the differences between PWIs and HBCUs.

Roshad Charles (Madison Prep ’21) and D’Metrie King (Lee ’19)

After the last school tour, we began to make our way back over to “The Boot” or, as many say, Louisiana. This whole experience was definitely eye-opening because, before it, I didn’t know about more than half of the colleges we visited. Going on campus visits is extremely important to your college selection process in order to see what your options are. You may think you really love a school and it’s the best choice for you, not realizing how many other campuses could also be a good fit. Freshman Fellow Mya Beathley said, “What surprised me was that I actually liked PWIs even though I’m used to the HBCUs.”

This recap would not be complete without thanking the generous people who made our trip possible. To everyone who supported the Florida College Tour by contributing to BRYC on Giving Tuesday, thank you, thank you, thank you! This was an unforgettable experience, thanks to you. To Ms. Taee, BRYC’s college success coordinator, thank you for the many hours you spent planning this excellent trip. I look forward to exploring many more campuses throughout my next three years as a BRYC Fellow!

Back to School

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Dru (left) and Javian Pierson (Scotlandville ’17)

Story by Kenya Carney, Class of 2020

Almost 25 percent of BRYC’s college graduates have pursued or are pursuing careers in education. Alumna Druscilla Dyer graduated from Belaire High School in 2010 and Loyola University New Orleans in 2015. Druscilla graduated with a degree in liberal arts focused in psychology, and she is now a special education teacher at Democracy Prep, a North Baton Rouge charter school. She is also serving as a BRYC College Mentor. At Democracy Prep, Druscilla works with fifth grade students to help them bridge the gap between where the student is and should be academically. Druscilla takes the student and helps them reach grade level in math, reading, or any subject the student is struggling in.

Once Druscilla graduated high school, she started to work in retail. Over time she realized that retail was not something she enjoyed doing, but she knew that she wanted to give back to the community. Druscilla decided to pursue a career in education. Druscilla grew up attending schools in low-income communities, and she was especially energized at the thought of working in similar schools as a teacher. Now that she is doing just that, Druscilla wants to give her students more than a teacher and be someone they can count on. “I want my students to be excited to be in my class every day, Monday through Friday,” Druscilla said.

With all occupations, there are the pros and cons; with teaching the pros are making connections with the students and giving them something to be excited about other than recess and seeing their classmates. Druscilla said some of the challenges of being a teacher are receiving disrespect from children and students not seeing the amount of work you are putting in for them to be successful.

Prior to attending Loyola, Druscilla attended Baton Rouge Community College. While there she encountered a classmate who could not read, and she asked him “How did you make it past grade school without learning how to read?” After that Dyer was motivated to become a reading specialist.

Even though the school system is not perfect, there are teachers like Druscilla putting in the work to make sure the school system is the best it possibly can be. Although it is hard and stressful being a teacher, caring people like Dyer can make a huge difference in the education system.

Alumni Educators:

  • Liz Cheri-Anderson, Parkview Baptist ’12, Southeastern ’16, front desk receptionist at BASIS Baton Rouge
  • Tesia Burton, Episcopal ’12, Guilford College ’16, former teacher working community events
  • Koryne Cage, BRMHS ’13, LSU ’18, ACT coordinator at BRYC
  • Druscilla “Dru” Dyer, Belaire ’10, Loyola New Orleans ’15, reading specialist at Democracy Prep Baton Rouge
  • Jayde Encalade, BRMHS ’10, University of Houston ’16, Teach For America alumna and Tulane Law student
  • Aliyah Furqan, Capitol ’13, University of Alabama ’17, Teach For America-Alabama corps member
  • Markeisha Hill, Belaire ’11, Wesleyan University ’16, BRYC’s first QuestBridge scholar currently teaching in Oregon
  • Dominique “Dom” Ricks, Belaire ’10, University of Wisconsin-Madison ’14 (bachelor’s) and ’16 (master’s), Teach For America-South Louisiana alumus and Dean of Students at Glacier Creek Middle School in Madison
  • Jerlisa Robinson, Tara ’12, Southern ’18, teacher at Tara High School
  • Alyssia White, Scotlandville ’12, Northwestern State ’16, pursuing a Master of Arts in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Northwestern State

Clear Leadership

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Story by Kenya Carney, Class of 2020

BRYC College Fellow Darrell Moses grew up fast. He is an only child, so he self-reflected a lot, which allowed him to think logically and process emotions. He stayed to himself most of the time and only communicated with a small group of people, but once he joined BRYC, he morphed into a great leader. A 2016 Scotlandville Magnet High School graduate and junior studying mechanical engineering at the Southern University Honors College, Darrell excelled as a varsity football player in high school. He holds many leadership roles from mentoring with BRYC to serving as a general manager on real estate projects; and he also mentors student-athletes at Scotlandville Magnet High School. Darrell is also in training to become the next president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Darrell’s leadership skills were on display when he took a trip to Ghana, Africa last summer. There he performed purification research to lower fluoride amounts in Ghanaians’ drinking water. On the trip, Darrell aided in designing and constructing a cost-efficient and low maintenance water system, which is currently being implemented in the Bongo District of Ghana. This innovative project has the added bonus of preventing dental and skeletal fluorosis, which causes staining and pitting of teeth and bones. In Ghana a day for Darrell would include strategizing on and constructing the structure for the system. Because he is majoring in mechanical engineering, creating and improving a water purification system was an invaluable hands-on experience for Darrell.

Darrell defines a leader as “someone who serves as an advocate for an underrepresented group of people.” Beyond serving as an advocate for the residents of the Bongo District of Ghana, Darrell is now back home advocating for current BRYC Fellows as a Freshmen Mentor. Darrell said the decision to become a Freshmen Mentor made him “ecstatic,” as he now has the opportunity to give back to an organization he feels has given so much to him. When asked how he plans to lead and encourage current BRYC Fellows, Darrell said, “You will forever be hungry looking at someone else’s plate. Sometimes it may require letting friends go or challenging yourself, but you will never make it anywhere standing still.”

They’re Back!

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Story by Nyla Gayle, Class of 2022

After a year hiatus, BRYC has resumed supporting Freshmen Fellows. Led by Freshmen Programs Coordinator Ms. Dani Klein, BRYC’s revamped freshmen programs provide ninth-grade Fellows the opportunity not only to be mentored but also to mentor others. Freshmen Fellows will build the academic and socio-emotional habits needed to navigate a turbulent developmental phase of major personal and scholastic importance.

Ms. Dani came to BRYC after spending two years teaching freshmen as a Teach For America corps member in St. Helena Parish. She loves working with freshmen and was excited to put her curriculum development skills to work. Ms. Dani hopes to prepare the Freshmen Fellows for their futures by helping them develop skills that will serve them in college. Ms. Dani also looks forward to supporting an expanded freshmen class and propelling her Fellows to leadership positions within and outside of the BRYC Community.

College Fellow and Freshmen Mentor Darren Smith works with a group of Freshmen Fellows

All Freshmen Fellows participate in two BRYC programs per week. The first is a partnership with Helping Youth Prepare for Excellence (HYPE), through which Freshmen Fellows mentor and tutor first-through-fourth-grade students from Bernard Terrace Elementary School. HYPE enables BRYC’s Freshmen Fellows to give back to their community, earn service hours, and develop leadership skills. Additionally, research shows that when students are put in positions of academic leadership, they take their own school work more seriously. Research also shows that ninth grade is pivotal; how students do in this one year can have a major effect on their educational futures.

When asked about her experience with HYPE, Freshmen Fellow Mya Beathley said, “It is a great time to be a mentor to someone younger than me. It’s cool since I have no siblings to help.”

The Freshmen Fellows’ second program of the week is the Freshmen Mentor Program, which pairs groups of three to five Freshmen Fellows with mentors, most of whom are BRYC graduates, whom we call College Fellows (college students) and Alumni (college graduates). The Freshmen Mentor Program focuses on helping Fellows develop the organizational, study, and time management skills needed for high school and college success. Freshman Fellow Terrance Banks says his Freshmen Mentor, College Fellow Kamesha Brumfield, has already exceeded his expectations. “She’s just relatable,” Terrance explained. “She’s already experienced stuff that you need to be successful, and she can show me what I need to do.” Like Terrance and the other Freshmen Fellows, I appreciate the resources and experiences BRYC is providing.

Full Circle

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Story by Leigh Phillips with contributions from Ivori Teasette and Monasia Charles, Class of 2019

Over the past few years, we have seen a slow trickle of College Fellows and Alumni return to BRYC to serve as volunteers. This year we’ve seen an explosion. Nearly 10 College Fellows and Alumni are volunteering at BRYC this year, and we have hired five of our very own College Fellows in part-time and full-time positions.

College Fellow Koryne Cage is the first program graduate to be offered a full-time role at BRYC. Koryne joined BRYC as a Fellow during her senior year at Baton Rouge Magnet High School at the behest of her younger sister, College Fellow Sara Cage, who is entering her senior year at Southeastern Louisiana University. After graduating from high school in 2013, Koryne matriculated to LSU Honors College, where she has majored in math and studied to become a teacher. In September 2017 she joined BRYC part-time as an ACT instructor and in July was promoted to full-time ACT coordinator, a role she will assume after graduating from LSU in December.

Koryne returns to BRYC keenly aware of the resource gaps prevalent at even the top public schools in the area, and she hopes to fill those gaps while giving back to the organization that has helped mold her as a student and an adult. “I started at BRYC last year because I saw how much it was growing, and I wanted to help out,” Koryne said.

Koryne has already grown professionally as a BRYC team member, stating, “I have a lot more professional skills, like how to teach. I also have better interpersonal skills, like how to talk to people, how to ask for what I need, and how to give others things that they need.” Koryne is benefitting from being a BRYC team member just as the Fellows are sure to benefit from her ACT instruction.

College Fellows Javian Pierson and Henry Thomas III chaperoned BRYC’s Community Retreat this summer

Continuing an intentional effort to hire College Fellows and Alumni, we added four part-time resident advisor (RA) positions to the team this school year. As RAs these college students and graduates oversee spaces on the BRYC campus, ensuring all Fellows are safe, supported, and engaged. BRYC’s RAs include Katelyn Guillory (Baton Rouge Magnet High ’18, Southern University ’22), Jalyn Smith (Mentorship Academy ’17, Southern University ’21), and Antone LeBlanc (Scotlandville Magnet High ’14, Brown University ’18).  When asked about her experience working for BRYC, Katelyn said, “The best part about working for BRYC part-time is the environment. I love what BRYC does for the community and the Fellows. Not only will I see my own growth, but I can witness the growth of the current Fellows as an employee of BRYC.” Katelyn has already identified one area of focus for her professional growth. “I believe a big challenge for me will be taking on the role as an authority figure for Fellows I see as friends. I only graduated this year, so making that division between friend and BRYC employee will be challenging for me,” she said.

When asked about returning to BRYC as a team member, Jalyn said, “I chose to work at BRYC because I wanted to give other people the same caring and loving environment I received when I was a BRYC Fellow.”

Alumna and College Mentor Druscilla Dyer (bottom right) works with her mentee

BRYC Alumnae Druscilla Dyer (Belaire High ‘10, Loyola University of New Orleans ‘15) and Kaitlyn Mattox (Baton Rouge Magnet High ‘14, University of Louisiana at Lafayette ‘18) are volunteering as College Mentors this school year. Seven College Fellows are giving back to BRYC as Freshmen Mentors. They are: Jaala Boyd (Capitol High ‘14, LSU ‘18), Kamesha Brumfield (Scotlandville Magnet High ‘13, LSU ‘19), Darrell Moses (Scotlandville Magnet High ‘16, Southern University ‘20), Michelle Opiri (McKinley High ‘15, LSU ‘19), Jamaica Rhoden (Baton Rouge Magnet High ‘16, LSU ‘20), Darren Smith (Baton Rouge Magnet High ‘15, Southern University ‘19), and Jasmine Watson (Madison Prep ‘17, Baton Rouge Community College ‘21).

BRYC’s Managing Director of Community Programs Josh Howard is very intentional about supporting College Fellows and Alumni. He communicates with them consistently to hold them accountable to achieving their goals, both inside and outside of the classroom. Josh also plugs program graduates into resources at BRYC and in their regions. Finally he connects them to high school Fellows interested in attending their colleges.

Now that BRYC has Fellows old enough and inclined to give back, we are making a concerted effort to engage them and, when possible, connect them with paid opportunities. Having College Fellows and Alumni around the BRYC campus sends a powerful message about our program graduates’ continued success and surrounds our current Fellows with even more mentors who have walked their path.

Maine, Spain, and Back Again

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Story by Leigh Phillips with contributions from Tanielma Costa, Class of 2020

The footprint of BRYC College Fellows and Alumni keeps growing. They are in all corners of the country, from California to New York and Tennessee to Wisconsin. In fact our College Fellows and Alumni attend or have graduated from colleges in 20 different states. Two College Fellows, Caleb Patterson and Rantel Ransom, have found their places thousands of miles from Baton Rouge at Colby College in Waterville, Me.

Waterville and Baton Rouge are polar opposites climatically, demographically, and culturally. After graduating from Lee Magnet High School in 2016 and moving to Maine, Caleb observed some major differences between the two cities. “I feel that the lack of diversity in Waterville, at least compared to Baton Rouge, has created some unique social relations amongst the people there,” he said. However Caleb has felt welcome in this very different place, explaining, “Luckily, I have not run into much hostility as an outsider there.” “People care about each other and they will be friendly to you as you are to them,” he said.

Caleb has been interested in politics since high school and studies history at Colby. Living in Waterville has further solidified his interests, as he noticed that Waterville residents seem to be more politically informed than Baton Rouge residents are. “Looking into how they run their communities is a nice experience,” Caleb said.

Caleb plans to use his studies and experiences to pursue a career in either politics or non-profit management. He wants to focus on community and economic development. BRYC influenced Caleb’s career goals, as he explained, “These intentions primarily stem from spending time at BRYC and appreciating how that organization worked.”

College Fellow Caleb Patterson attends top-ranked Colby College on a scholarship worth nearly $300,000

The QuestBridge National College Match brought Caleb and Rantel (Madison Prep ‘17) to Colby. QuestBridge provides high-achieving, under-resourced students with full scholarships to the top colleges in the nation. After undertaking a rigorous and highly selective application process, both Caleb and Rantel were “matched” to Colby, a school they had never heard of before QuestBridge. Matching necessitates a bit of blind faith, as accepting a scholarship offer through the program requires students to make an early and binding commitment to the school they match with. That QuestBridge assigned Caleb to be Rantel’s mentor eased both their transitions. “It’s always good to have someone to talk to about home when you’re far away from it,” Caleb said.

Caleb is currently stretching his learning to even farther corners of the globe, as he is studying abroad at the University of Sevilla in Spain. While in Sevilla, Caleb is taking a variety of classes with an emphasis on history and Spanish. “I’ve always loved learning about Spanish and wanted to use this abroad opportunity to become fluent in Spanish,” he explained. “I think it would be amazing to be bilingual and be able to converse with various people.”

When asked whether he would encourage other Fellows to attend schools they had never heard of, Caleb said, “Why not go see something new and expand your horizons?” He encourages other Fellows to be open to and take advantage of the possibilities in front of them, especially with a resource like BRYC at their disposal.

Caleb’s openness to new experiences resonated with Junior Fellow Tanielma Costa. She explained:

Many Fellows have joined BRYC for various reasons: we might have heard about it at school, our parents might have made us join, or even, in Caleb’s case, his girlfriend motivated him to join. But, once having joined BRYC, there is no mistaking that it is a wonderful resource and a privilege to be a part of. Being a BRYC Fellow opens up new doors we never even conceived could exist. With the right mindset and resolve, BRYC will aid us in laying the foundation to a better future. Our only hinderance is our willingness.

Big League Internship

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Story by Emily Nichols, Class of 2019

A former basketball star and 2014 Capitol High School graduate, BRYC College Fellow Jaala Boyd knows all about the game. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Jaala’s mother placed her in dance. Jaala instantly knew she was not connected to the art. She had first picked up a basketball at age four; the rest was history.

Jaala earned many accolades playing high school basketball, including being named to 2013 Second Team All-District and 2014 Class 2A All-Academic Team. From the court to the classroom, Jaala learned to find balance between athletics and academics. She stated, “I am an organized person, and I like to plan things. I like to utilize the tools around me like phones, calendars, and emails. My coach understood that school was first so, before games, if you had homework, you would do that. Less practice opened the window to get more things done during the day.”

With that mindset and drive in tow, Jaala moved 10 minutes across town to Louisiana State University in the fall of 2014. She desired to carry her love of basketball to the women’s varsity team, but after putting forth a valiant effort was unable to secure one of those highly coveted spots. She revealed, “My passion for basketball made me feel like I had somewhere I belonged. It was kind of hard to get used to college, and it was a mini-struggle because I didn’t have it (basketball).” Undeterred, Jaala went on to play intramural basketball for LSU in addition to becoming a sports administration major.

College Fellow Jaala Boyd spent summer 2018 as a procurement and community outreach intern with the New York Mets

One day, while looking over numerous internships sent by the sports administration department, Jaala came across an opportunity with the New York Mets. Fingers crossed, she applied and got accepted for the position. For Jaala, New York City was a big shock. Its bustling streets and towering skyscrapers were a stark change from Baton Rouge. BRYC did its best to make Jaala’s transition easier, helping her secure a rent-free apartment generously offered by local BRYC supporters. There was nothing easy about the internship, though. Inside the Mets organization, Jaala was thrown right into the storm, supporting with office administration.

Coming from a humble background, Jaala understands the value of hard work: “I didn’t face adversity, but I felt it. Many got into their positions because they knew someone. I was the only person who didn’t have connections.” As one of just two Black interns, Jaala found it challenging to integrate herself in the predominantly white office. “Being one of the only Black people, I didn’t have much to talk to them about if it wasn’t sports-related. I don’t mingle much, and it really made me want to stay to myself even more.”

Although uncomfortable, Jaala did not falter. She found inspiration and support in a coworker named Chris. “Chris started out as a mascot for a year or two before he started doing other things around the minor league. He eventually worked his way up to the office of the New York Mets. It was inspiring to be around him.” Curveballs and all, Jaala’s internship affirmed her goals to work at the intersection of philanthropy and sports, in community relations within professional sports franchises.

Jaala’s giving nature can best be seen in her character. She is giving back to BRYC this year by serving our ninth-graders as a Freshmen Mentor, but she has but she has a piece of advice for all Fellows: “Everyone’s journey is different. Everybody’s process is different. But remember to be patient. Be humble. Have faith.“

PMAB to Paris

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Story by Ashlei Smith, Class of 2020

Every year thousands of students get accepted to their dream colleges. BRYC College Fellow Markayla Collins did not just get into her dream college; she is getting paid to attend Centenary College of Louisiana.

College Fellow Markayla Collins participating in “Centenary in Paris”

After being accepted to Centenary and realizing she would owe the school $8,000 per year, Markayla sat down with BRYC’s Executive Director Lucas Spielfogel to devise a plan to increase her ACT score. Markayla committed to BRYC’s signature self-regulated learning cycle, PMAB, standing for Plan, Monitor, Assess, Break. This method trains Fellows to use metacognition to engage deep, lasting learning. By faithfully utilizing PMAB during her ACT prep sessions, Markayla increased her composite score by six points from the March 2018 to the April 2018 tests, leading to a $40,000 increase in gift aid (scholarships) from Centenary. Rather than accumulating debt, Markayla is now going to college and getting paid. When asked about her incredible ACT improvement, Markayla advised, “Take the ACT seriously; do not wait until your senior year to get serious. Read, read, read! Most importantly, read to understand.”

The decision to study at Centenary was an easy choice for Markayla. “I chose Centenary because of the class sizes, location, and religious affiliation, which is Methodist,” Markayla said. At Centenary, Markayla is majoring in psychology and minoring in legal studies. “After college I plan on returning home to attend Southern’s law school. I want to practice family law,” she explained.

One perk of attending her dream college was the opportunity to experience “Centenary in Paris,” a trip open to all Centenary freshmen. While bonding with her new classmates, Markayla visited landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and more. The trip was full of excitement. Markayla even got to ride in an EMS truck to a Parisian hospital when she had a minor health scare; don’t worry, everything checked out! Other than enjoying the delicious crepes, Markayla appreciated getting to experience a new culture. “The trip to Paris taught me to expect the unexpected,” she said. “It also taught me to be open to new cultures and food. America and France are so different in many ways!”

Markayla’s trip to Paris helped her realize that the hard work she invested to get to her dream college was worth it. Markayla encouraged other BRYC Fellows by saying, “Stay on your grind. Don’t just reach for the stars; go beyond that.”

Two Senior Fellows Named Louisiana Young Heroes

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Story by Leigh Phillips

BRYC Senior Fellows Garrinecia Singleton and Kari Stephens were recently chosen as recipients of the 2018 Louisiana Young Heroes Award. In its 23rd year, the program celebrates the achievements of students who have inspired those around them and have devoted their time, talents, and energy to making their schools, churches, and communities better places.

Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge sponsor the program. The winners and their families will be honored April 16 with a luncheon at the Old Governor’s Mansion, a banquet at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge, and more.

Singleton is a senior at Scotlandville Magnet High School who suffered an abusive childhood at the hands of a family member. After her abuser was imprisoned, Singleton was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and severe clinical depression. She committed herself to a stringent mental health regimen, remaining a dedicated student. Singleton will be her class salutatorian and has been accepted to Rhodes College with a scholarship worth more than $200,000. She is also a Gates Scholarship Finalist. Singleton plans to become a licensed clinical social worker to support vulnerable young people and spread awareness of predatory behavior.

Stephens is a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School. When their mother died of cancer, Stephens and her brother were adopted by an aunt. In addition to her mother’s terminal illness, Stephens’ childhood was made more difficult by a father in prison, an older sister who frequently ran away, and time in a homeless shelter. Stephens found that by opening herself up to people, she would be exposed to opportunities she hadn’t considered, such as Key Club. Stephens is the district secretary-treasurer and is past lieutenant governor of Key Club. As an active Key Club member, Stephens has given back to the community at several BREC family events and Our Lady of the Lake-sponsored runs. She is a regular volunteer at Lake Sherwood Village assisted living community where she plays bingo with the residents. Stephens has traveled around the country with Key Club and has been able to embrace the lessons of strength and selflessness that her mothers taught her.

“I am pretty grateful and extremely lucky to be recognized for doing what I love: helping others,” Stephens said. “I was amazed to be nominated for this award and even more so when I found out that I had so many who are there to support me. It feels so good to have a strong support system in the staff at BRYC and in my family!”

BRYC Fellows Visit Seven Atlanta-Area Schools on College Tour

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Story by Katelyn Guillory, Class of 2018

Throughout its history, BRYC has taken six college tours to Atlanta. Each year more and more Fellows are exposed and eventually matriculate to Atlanta-area schools. And each year more and more of those Atlanta College Fellows meet up with us on the tour to share their campuses with the current Fellows. This year nearly 40 BRYC Fellows and six staff members visited seven schools and five College Fellows over two days as part of the 2018 Atlanta College Tour. Fellows and chaperones also enjoyed learning about the civil rights movement at the King Center and shopping at Atlantic Station. Below is a breakdown of the seven schools we visited on the tour.

Georgia Institute of Technology

As a public school providing a technologically-based education to the new leaders of the world, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) offers more than 100 internship opportunities in and outside of Atlanta. C.M. Runnels, a current Georgia Tech student and Baton Rouge Magnet High School alumnus, was able to give our Fellows insight on the differences between Baton Rouge and Atlanta and how taking AP courses in high school prepared him for success in college. “They’re really up-to-date. It’s official. I can see myself here,” Senior Fellow Christian Riley said of Georgia Tech.

From left to right: Josh Howard, Managing Director of Community; Kyron Freeman, College Fellow at Morehouse; Arroneisha Smith, College Fellow at Clark Atlanta; and LaShawn Robertson, Managing Director of College Programs

Morehouse College

This private, liberal arts, historically black men’s college seeks to redefine the meaning of leadership. Morehouse faculty and administration encourage students to make a mark in their communities and explore global opportunities. BRYC College Fellow and Scotlandville Magnet High School alumnus Kyron Freeman joined us for the tour of his campus. Kyron is following in the footsteps of three Belaire High School and BRYC alumni, John Queen, Jonathan Scott, and Alex Watford, by pursuing an education at Morehouse. “It’s all about the brotherhood and Black excellence,” Junior Fellow Alex Lacey said of Morehouse.

Spelman College

As a private, liberal arts, historically black women’s college, Spelman is a global leader in the education of young women in leadership and change. BRYC College Fellow and Spelman senior Brittany Butler shared her perspective of her school with BRYC Fellows during the tour. Butler will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in May and plans to pursue joint Master’s of Social Work and Juris Doctor degrees following graduation. She has already been accepted to New York University and Tulane’s graduate schools! Senior Fellow Heather Randolph connected with Spelman and said, “I love this. Black female empowerment and encouragement to make some change. I’m here.” Several BRYC Senior Fellows have been accepted to Spelman for the 2018-2019 school year, including Shayla Hastings, Nyah Johnson, Jennifer Ndulaka, Kari Stephens, and me.

Clark Atlanta University

College Fellow Arroneisha Smith gave a handful of Fellows a comprehensive tour of Clark Atlanta University, a private, historically-black school located in close proximity to Morehouse and Spelman. Smith showed the group classrooms, the library, and even her dorm’s bathroom so they could get a true feel for campus life at Clark Atlanta. Several Senior Fellows are considering attending Clark Atlanta in the fall and were grateful for Smith’s perspective on the university.

University of West Georgia

About an hour and a half outside of Atlanta sits University of West Georgia, home of the Wolves. Many Fellows felt at home with this public institution and the opportunities available. Senior Fellow Shayla Hastings applied right after the tour. At first sight, Hastings wondered, “Why are we even here?” After listening to the tour guide, she realized the school had amazing opportunities for her. “Their constant construction throughout the school year shows they have money, and I need money for school,” Hastings said. Financial aid will obviously be a priority for Hastings as she makes her college choice!

College Fellows Bea Kariuki and Koryne Cage at Emory

Emory University

As a top-ranked private institution, Emory University is known internationally for its involvement in the business and healthcare industries. Fellows were amazed by the many colleges and graduate and professional opportunities on campus. BRYC College Fellow and Broadmoor High School alumna Beatrice “Bea” Kariuki joined the tour, sharing about her experiences as a Gates Millennium Scholar and neuroscience and behavioral biology major at Emory. Junior Fellow Monasia Charles asked great questions about the social life and teacher-student relationships to be sure Emory is a strong candidate for her college list. Senior Fellow Ron’Janiele (Nelly) Bruce has been accepted to Emory and is considering making it her home in the fall.

Oxford College of Emory University

Oxford provides an alternative start at Emory University for students who prefer a smaller campus in their transition from high school. This two-year, residential college offers an intense focus on a liberal arts education, leadership, and community service before students transfer to the Emory University Atlanta campus. BRYC College Fellow and West Feliciana High School alumna Mika Cooper is excelling as a first-year student at Oxford. A majority of the BRYC Fellows present felt at home in the tight-knit community Oxford offers. After the tour, Fellows attended a college panel to hear about current students’ unique experiences on the smaller campus.

From left to right: LaShawn Robertson, Managing Director of College Programs; Mika Cooper, College Fellow at Oxford College; Josh Howard, Managing Director of Community

To see more pictures from the Atlanta College Tour, visit