From Intern to Program Staff

Two days ago, I found out that I would receive the first #MondayLeaders Employee Spotlight. I am truly honored to receive this and share my TLNYC story.

I have been a part of Tomorrow’s Leaders now for almost three years. I can be honest and say that it has truly been the pleasure of my life to work with and for the organization.

To talk about my time with the program, I started off as an intern. In this role, I worked 2-days a week at I.S. 218 in Brooklyn from 10 am to 1 pm. During my time as an intern, I shadowed staff members, took notes on how each staff person either interacted with or engaged the program’s students, and participated in workshops. There were times where it was a hassle to get the students to attend workshops, but once they were engaged everything worked like magic.

When thinking about the programming back then, Tuesday were the days where we would do one-on-ones with each student and Thursdays were for workshops. I had a fond love for the Thursday workshops because that was when we worked with each student socially, emotionally, and academically. During this time, I was able to build authentic relationships with the enrolled students, program staff, administers, and teachers from I.S 218.

In 2016, as my internship came to a close, my time with the program increased from 2-days to 3-days. That’s when the good news came. I remember it like it was yesterday! Mr. Toyin pulled me aside and asked if I would like to work a few more hours and receive a stipend for my work.  I said yes without hesitation because I had 1) become so fond of the students and 2) had gained more of a passion for sharing my life’s experiences and knowledge with each student. One project I fondly remember was being tasked with helping improve student attendance. I truly loved this project because it felt like I was each student’s personal coach; coaching them to come to school as being in-school normally meant better grades as I would have more time to help them study.

In 2017, I found out that I was promoted again and my new title would be Youth Advocate Mentor. This showed me that TLNYC rewards hard work & dedication. When thinking back on this, TLNYC has played a major role in my personal and professional life. Being able to be transparent, show tough love, while staying consistent and persistent at work has allowed me to build authentic, compassionate relationships with various students and program staff members over the years.

Oh… I can’t forget that I was recently appointed to work with two schools; I.S 218 and M.S 292. This experience has not only been rewarding but also let me witness firsthand how TLNYC programs benefit new students who have been left behind. The changes in their mindsets and attitudes are beautiful to watch.

As I close my first blog and thank TLNYC for the spotlight, I want to say that being a part of Tomorrow’s Leaders has given me the opportunity to be open and identify myself as a student who also had it hard growing up. When you grow up in trying circumstances, having someone to talk to makes a big difference. It’s important for students to know that they are not alone. I believe that helping students improve socially and emotionally is essential to their life and their academics because it helps them focus more on their studies and less on the issues at home or in their neighborhood. All-in-all, being a role model daily for the TLNYC students brings me so much joy as these students are the leaders of tomorrow.

Thank you again for the spotlight.

With Love,

JKaira Collins