I first met Cierra when she was a second semester high school senior. We had worked together on her college applications for close to half a year before our actual meeting, but we had never seen each other face-to-face until several months after she was accepted to Rice University on Early Decision. To this day I remember her strength in organizational skills (she was often the one setting deadlines for me!), persistence, and “tell it how it is” attitude. When she was the first to apply for the BridgeYear internship, I knew I had to have her on the team! See what Cierra has to say about her internship thus far:
Q: What inspired you to be a BridgeYear intern?
A: During my time in college, I have become super passionate about education reform specifically in relation to inequalities in education for minority students. A start up organization like BridgeYear not only allows me to explore and develop this passion, but also gives me ample learning opportunities as I aspire to one day create my own nonprofit organization.
Q: Tell us about an “aha” moment – a time when you were most excited about the work you are doing this summer.
A: My aha moment came after the design thinking training with Vichi. I knew I was on an innovative team searching for the “Why” in all aspects related to BridgeYear, but prior to the training, I was never quite sure on how exactly I was going to be able to come up with the answers. Now, I’ve been working according to a plan with my team and pioneering research that I hope will be instrumental to the way others think of certain community college experiences.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of your work at BridgeYear?
A: The most challenging aspect of my work at BridgeYear has definitely been learning to go with the flow. A lot of my work can seem vague on the best days, and it continuously builds on itself. Because of this, I have been learning to relinquish the desire for control and structure I have.
Q: If you had to give your BridgeYear experience a hashtag, what would that be and why?
A: #JustKeepPushing! Many times I get discouraged by the logistics of interviews or the statistics of matriculation rates versus graduation rates, but I have to remind myself that these things are my motivation for working on such a dynamic team creating change throughout Houston!
Q: Other than BridgeYear, what else have you been up to this summer?
A: When I am not conducting interviews for BridgeYear, I am either attending summer school, preparing for my mission trip to Haiti at the end of the summer, or interning at EMERGE Fellowship. Earlier in the summer, I coordinated the Young Owls Leadership Program at Rice University, which was equally as rewarding. My summer is quite busy!
I almost laughed out loud when I first read Cierra’s reflection on how she’s been learning to “relinquish the desire for control and structure.” I put Cierra in charge of Team Innovation knowing that we are very alike in our work styles – we like concrete to do lists and trackable long term plans. It’s been refreshing and inspiring to see her grow this summer and embrace the ambiguity that comes with working in a start up. I cannot wait to support her in her own start up nonprofit endeavors one day!