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.