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.“