#StepUp2ThePlate Stories: Scholars
Augusta’s Story: Pursuing a Career In STEM & Inspiring Others
“I was the only black female, out of 40 finalists, at the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search Competition for my research on cement in high school. One father, with two young black girls came up to me and said, “I just needed them to see you here because I want them to know that it is possible to do something like this- it is possible to pursue STEM as a black woman.” I never saw any of this coming from studying what I thought was just rocks and water. By following what you are passionate about, working hard, and knowing you are not just doing this for you, but doing this for others- you are able to break barriers.” -Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna. Harvard University. Sponsor: Unilever USA.
Asia’s Story: Working With a Small Women’s Collective In Brazil
“I lived in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil and worked five days a week with a small women’s collective in the poor community called Calafate. The collective, works to speak out against domestic violence, spread information about women’s sexual health, and fight the Zika virus. I helped created a database of 370 women and their households in the community so that the collective could better understand community needs. I also gave weekly Excel lessons to women in the community to develop their computer skills to help with career advancement and keeping the collective organized. My time at the collective was an exchange of knowledge and the women and I learned from each other. This humbling experience has taught me that even the smallest actions can have an impact on the life of someone else.” -Asia Kaiser. Princeton University. Sponsor: Martin L. Edelman.
Amanis’ Story: Helping To Create a Safe Space for Refugees
“As a Rachel Robinson International Fellow, I was able to travel to Copenhagen and work with an organization called The Trampolin House, which creates a safe space for refugees and asylum seekers. We compiled helpful resources and created a booklet for the Trampolin House to share with refugees who come through Copenhagen. It was an emotional experience to be able to make an impact on their lives while having them impact me as well.” -Amani Holder. Spelman College. Sponsor: DLA Piper/Catherine & Michael Meyer.
Miles’ Story: Giving Back Directly To The Classroom
“I noticed my teachers didn’t have the supplies they needed in the classroom. Teachers were running out of dry erase markers or during science labs, groups had to wait because only one set of lab equipment was operable for the experiment. I then started the DePaul Prep Giving Circle, a philanthropic group that raises money to give back to teachers who need supplies in the classroom and can’t afford to buy them on their own. Last year, the Giving Circle made $3,000 in grants to support classroom projects. I took great pride in helping an institution that helped me get to where I am- all while creating an atmosphere of giving back that my peers could follow.”
Thomas’ Story: Taking a Leadership Position That Impacts The Lives Of Others
“Camden is a 6 year old boy who was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 2. He is also my teammate on the Carnegie Mellon University Basketball Team as a result of the organization, Team IMPACT. He attends many of our practices, games, and even has a locker in our locker room! As a JRF Scholar, I was taught during my freshmen year that ‘a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,’ so I took a leadership position with the non-profit, Team IMPACT, where I was able to increase my personal contribution to Camden’s experience. The joy I have seen our team bring to Camden and his family has been more rewarding than any individual feat that I have ever attained.”
Manley’s Story: Building a Computer Lab for Low Income Students
“My high school was like a lot of other low income schools, and did not have funding for the ideal laptops that were necessary for our education. During my senior year of high school, with the support of our school’s administration, my friends and I partnered with Think-it-Up, a non-profit organization, where we proposed a project to start a computer lab for the students. Think-it-up rewarded us a $1,000 grant for our project, and we were successfully able to buy our first Mac desktop for our lab with more desktops on the way.”
Autumn’s Story: Using Literacy To Change The World
“During my senior year of high school, I published my book, Mirrors by Autumn Burton. This collection of short stories and essays chronicles struggles against systemic oppression that tend to be dissociated from mainstream media: mass incarceration, child prostitution, drug trafficking, environmental racism, and more. Guiding a journey around the world from Baltimore to show that many of the issues faced outside our nation’s borders are happening right up the street, I hope that my authorship will inspire millennials to realize our potential to use literacy as a route to change the world.”
-Autumn Burton. Duke University. Sponsor: Anonymous.
Chelsea’s Story: Prepping the Next Generation Of Women Leaders
“I was raised as one of five girls by a single mother. In 11th grade, I thought back to my twelve year old self and wondered, ‘what motivated me to believe in myself, despite society’s limitations?’ The answer was simple, sisterhood. That reflection turned into my non-profit, WEBelieve,where we train the next generation of women to be civic and corporate leaders. We’re currently at three universities in three cities and will be expanding to ten new locations in the fall. It’s incredible to see how WEBelieve has grown and taken a life of its own.”
-Chelsea Miller. Columbia University. Sponsor: Derek Jeter.
Mandela’s Story: Finding An Outlet To Share The Stories Of Others
“My parents named me Mandela Peace Namaste, after a person (Nelson Mandela) and value (peace) important to them. As a result of my name, I have always felt connected to South Africa and next semester, I will be studying abroad there. I’m very interested in the complex and interesting nature of people’s personal stories and, during the last month, we get to work with journalists from outlets around the country. I am planning to write a story on how hip-hop artists in South Africa use music to talk about the country’s struggles over the past 20 years; a perfect outlet for me to share the stories of others and continue exploring my passion.”
Fabian’s Story: Using One’s Executive Position To Help Others
“I have a tattoo of something Jackie Robinson said: “A life is not important, except for the impact it has on other lives.” Whatever decision, it can’t be about me-I have to consider how to use my position to help others. That’s why when I was starting college I found myself on three different Executive boards and even today, studying for my Masters with a newborn, I am President of two Columbia University Business School organizations.”
-Fabian McNally. Columbia University. Extra Innings Fellow.
Simone’s Story: Giving Youth A Second Chance
“I have always been a believer in second chances. When I had the opportunity to visit East Africa two years ago, it shocked me to see the kids at school with amputations. In the Serengeti, amputations take place because of diseases and animal attacks. The way these kids were treated in their community, even by their own parents and teachers, broke my heart. That is why I want to be a reconstructive surgeon. I can give a second chance to youth and let them know, you are valued in this society. You may look a certain way, but that doesn’t change the character of your heart and soul.”