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.