Career Day at Dr. Gladstone H. Atwell Middle School 61
We all have that one adult who's impacted our lives in such a way that it would be impossible for us to forget them. Whether it was a camp basketball coach, music instructor, or a teacher, we wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for them. While many have one particular person to thank, I have an entire school. I attended Dr. Gladstone H. Atwell Middle School 61 from 2004-2007 where I learned so much more than academics. MS61 has instilled the love of self, knowledge, art, theatre, literature, culture, and compassion in me. I fell in love with MS 61 and am forever in debt to everyone who played a part in molding me into who I am today.
Since 2007, I remained a familiar face in the school, making visits ever so often to check in with a few favorite faculty members. So when I read a not-so-lovely headline in the news a few months ago, my heart broke. The article didn't describe the school I knew, but how could I prove that?
I heard that a Career Day was in the works, and I got to work. I contacted all the former students I could find. What better way to show how amazing a school is, than inviting its amazing former students to participate? I also reached out to Young Black and Brooklyn (YBB), a collective of young black millennials who are actively being the change they wish to see in our Black communities. I had recently attended an open forum about Music, Media and Mass Incarceration hosted by YBB and was so inspired by their passion. It was so dense you could literally feel it. Thats the kind of passion I wanted to see at Career Day.
All participants were put in pairs and were scheduled to speak to 3 classes. I was lucky to be paired with Blake Austin. Blake Austin and I shared a desk in Dr. Y's Earth Science class almost a decade ago, now there he was talking to students who were just like us - young, bright and full of potential. Blake Austin is an actor, singer, dancer, musician, choreographer, playwright and CEO of Ablaze Productions Inc. BLAKE IS THE MAN! He snatched the attention of both the students and their teachers as he told the story of where Dr. Gladstone H. Atwell had brought him. He even delivered a Spoken Word for the students!
I shared the dos and don'ts of blogging and why networking is important. When I was in school, no one told me what a network was and how beneficial it is to stay well connected. I talked about my experiences with failures, and how my mishaps did not and will not stop me. Life as a pre-teen a decade ago is completely different compared to what its like today. College is tough, and expensive. Not everything will go as planned. Im proud to have been able to share a perspective from a route people don't really cover when talking about higher education - a route that still leads to success.
While it was important to me to have former students participate in Career Day 2016, my overall goal was that we have young people stand in front of those students. For whatever reason, no one expects Career Day to feature young people. I wanted to change that. Im happy to say that the majority of presenters were under the age of 30, and it was an added bonus to know that many of us walked those same MS61 hallways. I wanted the students of MS61 to see that success isn't that far away. 10 years from now, they too will be telling a child to work hard, stay focused and never give up. Young people shouldn't forget where they come from nor should they forget to pay it forward. I would like to thank the following MS 61 alumnae for helping make Career Day 2016 a success:
Ricardo Mullings - graduating this Spring from Brown University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and headed to Law School
Hantze Toureau - graduating this Spring from Pace University with her Masters degree in Accounting (starting her career next month!)
Schaïna Gilot - earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing, working as a Pediatric Registered Nurse
Blake Austin - earned his BFA in Theatre Arts, Actor, Singer, Dancer, Musician, choreographer, Playwright, CEO of Ablaze Productions Inc.
Alexandra Cheron - earned her Bachelors of the Arts in Psychology (Magna Cum Laude), School Counselor Intern @ MS61
Also a special thanks to Cheyenne Anthony, Andrew St. Cyr and Raquel Smith of Young Black & Brooklyn for coming and sharing their lives with the students. To stay updated with their upcoming events, follow them here.
Thank you for reading!!