Posts Tagged ‘Spelman’

Testimonials

  • “The workshop helped me to feel comfortable writing about myself and to work through my ideas to see what would work. It proved to be a crucial way for me to figure out what was most important to me and how to express that to the colleges I was applying to in the most articulate way. I highly recommend it as learning experience.”
  • Sophia Toles
  • Martha’s Vineyard Workshop Attendee
  • Class of 2012, Friends Academy
  • Class of 2016, Princeton University
  • “David Dent does a great job of helping students come up with revealing topics of their very own to consider for their college essays. He takes the time that is needed to transport your child beyond the routine parameters of his/her thinking to get there.”
  • Lisa Boldt, Mother
  • Alden Boldt
  • Class of 2014, Berkshire School
  • Class of 2018, Union College
  • “When Cameron came to Write for the Future, he was at the bottom of his class in writing and literature. In about 26 sessions, he has gone from a bottom to an A. It is so exhilarating to see this work-in-action. David and Write for the Future have proven that what they say, they do. Write for the Future is a testament to itself. … Now my son can analyze things, he can write things; there are not words to express the things he has done since he has been working with Write for the Future...I would recommend Write for the Future offers to anyone. You are investing in your child’s future,… and you will see the outcome of the product. Write for the Future has done wonders for my son. On Sundays, he always looks forward to his session…. I think it’s amazing.”
  • Lynn King,
  • Mother of Cameron King,
  • Class of 2016, Elisabeth Irwin High School

First Job Blues: Battles and Lifelong Lessons

First Job Blues: Battles and Lifelong Lessons

by Diamond Grady

ArundelBayArea_MD_Senior_Grady_DiamondIt was the beginning of the shift. My first table of the evening just sat down. It was a couple I had never seen before in the the restaurant where I worked at a retirement living community. I was eager to meet them. I picked up my water pitcher in a great mood and headed to the table.  When I arrived, I poured the glasses of ice-cold water, and introduced myself. “Hello, my name is Di-” was all I could muster before the gentleman rudely interrupted with the demand that I bring him an iced tea, without even looking at me. Instantly my mood changed, and it took every ounce of my being to swallow my pride. I took the high road as this job has taught me to do and kindly said, “Yes sir.”

Add more living to your life. This is the motto that attracts residents to the community, and ironically, describes what it’s like to work there. I would know — the residents will certainly liven your day during mealtime. This is my first job and it has forced me to mature in ways I never imagined. I have learned to remain calm in the face of so much disrespect from the people that I serve French toast and eggplant Parmesan on a weekly basis.

If being outgoing ever becomes something that can be measured and sold, I would easily become a millionaire. I love to go to social events, interact with different personalities, and socialize with a mixture of diverse people. In high school, my people oriented personality developed into an interest in marketing, a field I intend to explore in college. During my high school years, I never fit into any one clique or limit myself to one group of people. I work very well with others and have always easily got along with most people. Given my personality, I never thought being a waitress at a retirement community restaurant would pose such a difficult challenge.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. At a young age, my parents instilled this lesson in me as well as taught me to always stand up for myself and treat others fairly. Working at the restaurant has exposed me to people who do not always treat me with the same respect that I deserve and show. As a waitress, I can’t stand up to them and demand respect in the way my parents nurtured me to do. This inner conflict has been difficult to navigate. Over time, I have become a more disciplined person as I curb my impulse to say something disrespectful to the rude people I serve. To prevent myself from snapping, I have learned to pause. Breathe in and out.

I have also learned to appreciate and focus on the good rather than allowing the bad to consume my experience at work. The optimist in me has grown. For example, Mr. Jones, a resident who dines at Atrium every day, takes care of his wife, who is diagnosed with early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Though he is always requesting extra food, and therefore making my job harder, he is extremely polite and always has a smile on his face even when dealing with his wife. Almost every time he asks for something else, he always says, “ I do not mean to trouble you but…”This simple comment instantly puts a smile on my face and softens my mood.

I am now more tolerant of others and realize that having the last word is not always important. Sometimes kindness and a smile are the best ways to handle a tense situation. “Kill them with kindness,” as the saying goes. I learned this lesson up close at work. As a result, I have grown into a stronger person as I make my transition into adulthood.

Diamond Grady is a 2014 graduate of Seton Keough High School in Baltimore and a freshman at Spelman College.

Poetry and Basketball Defeat a Scar

Poetry and Basketball Defeat a Scar

By Zenobya Clarke

2014-04-03-298809_4477146576515_608629517_nWhen I was three, I fell off a couch and hit my head on the edge of a coffee  table. My face was busted open; I needed twenty-six stitches.  For years I was self-conscious about my scar. It  not only cut through my face but  controlled my view of myself as I often shied  away from people.

Two passions rescued me from limiting myself– basketball and poetry. They seem worlds apart yet I eventually united them as a force in my battle against the scar. I have been writing poetry for as long as I can remember and playing basketball before I learned to ride a bike at seven. The scar never mattered more than my skills as a player on the court, which forced me to work harder at the game. The art and the sport were my temporary escapes.

My words were my own and I spent hours engraving them onto the pages of my notebook. Poetry was my hiding place. I kept my writing secret, until I was no longer comfortable existing apart from the world.  Somehow I found the strength in middle school to take  a leap and sign up for a poetry reading at my church.

My heart pounding and hands cold, I sat waiting on the edge of the hard wooden pew. The church rang with applause; I was next. Immediately, the scar produced fear that surrounded me, holding me back. In my mind, everyone was there to see that mark rather than listen to my  poetry.  The butterflies scraped  their wings along the walls of my belly. I walked up on the stage and kept my back to the crowd,  scared to turn around. The butterflies flew fiercer. Reaching the podium, I slowly  turned around and raised my eyes to  face what felt like  millions of eyes staring back. I was exposed.  I looked back down at my paper that was now wrinkled from nervous hands. There was no turning back. I took one more look at the crowd and then took a deep breath. I  began to read and entered a world where my words encased me, holding me close then flowing from my mouth:

Boom Boom,

The pounding of the ball and my heart are one

The glides of my feet move like a pen across a page from a woman’s  angry heartless goodbye from spouse she once loved

My eyes stare across an empty court

My ears no longer hear the sound of a roaring crowd

Then like  dance

No

Like a painting

No

Like poetry

I twist and glide across an empty court to score a basketball

And it all comes back to

The roaring crowd

The empty court

All come back and the world I was in becomes a memory

But no worries because I know it will be back soon

I left the podium and escaped the staring eyes–proud with  a sense of fearlessness  bursting  through me.  Those same  poetic words that I used to hide myself, now became a door to find my individualism in such a public way. It built my self-confidence.

This new part of me felt larger than my insecurities and shined even more as basketball grew into more of a gateway of my expression.  On the court I played center; I did not shy away from the world. In fact,  I became a leader on the court in a moment that resembled my first poetry reading. In my freshman year, my team was losing a game.  Suddenly my confidence as a poet gave me a burst of unbelievable passion. Without realizing, I started yelling out to my teammates,  “Lets pull ourselves together!”  That comment revived the team’s dynamic flow. We played stronger. The moment echoed the part of me that I carried away from the church and far beyond the awareness of the scar.

I became involved without fears in several  community service projects–some sponsored by  my local chapter of  Jack and Jill of America Inc., an organization of African American families.  I even travelled to South Africa to teach poetry to children  through the Artworks for Youth Program when I was 15. I led a class of six boys in a dusty broken down classroom in Joe Slovo Township. I pushed them to tell  the stories of  their lives– the good and the bad. We all shared a connection. Our poetry was our therapy, linking our words  together. We laughed, cried, sang, and  even danced. On some days, we were really silly. Indeed I  left the summer feeling that fears over that little scar were even sillier.

Zenobya Clarke is a 2013 graduate of Packer Collegiate Institute and is now a Freshman at Spelman College.

Princess Nyla

by Nyla Nation

My first class was gym. I sat alone on day one of high school. I did not know anyone and felt relieved when two strangers, Alvin and Eric, sat beside me on the bleachers. Maybe a new friendship?

“Hey! What town are you from?” Alvin asked.

“Westbury.”

Eric chimed in, “What school did you go to?”

”Westbury Middle School.“

“So…Did you hear the new Lil Wayne song?” added Alvin.

The conversation took a mysterious turn. Alvin and Eric changed the tones of their voices to their versions of how black people talk. It felt as foreign as this school.

“Do you like fried chicken and watermelon?” Eric said, with a weird grin.

I was speechless on my first day ever in a predominantly white school.  Welcome to Long Island Lutheran High School.

Four years later, I am completely at home at the school that once felt foreign. A few weeks ago, Alvin and Eric sat across from me in fashion class. Eric asked, “Hey, Nyla, did you get a new weave?”

I laughed. I have grown comfortable around them. I grew to love LUHI after the first two weeks of total alienation. I have always refused to allow others to deter me from opportunity. Perhaps it all started with my name. For years, I was under the impression I was actually a natural born princess after I discovered that my mother gave me the name Nyla because it means “Ethiopian princess.” I carried the confidence that came with the name to encounters similar to the watermelon moment. I was five years old when my eight-year-old cousin called me a dweeb. I instinctively responded, “No! I’m a princess, not a dweeb!”

More than just the name sustains my strength; so does dance. It has always been a pivotal and constant factor in my life–Ballet, modern, liturgical, and jazz. I have danced in my church’s Allen Liturgical Dance Ministry since I was six and have been enrolled in dance schools since I was five. At sixteen, I met the hardest yet most meaningful dance ever. The name of the dance says it all: “Hurt.” The demanding dance was upbeat and fast, which was very different from the church’s slow and flowing ballet dances. It challenged my agility. When my dance teacher saw me struggling to finish the dance, she yelled: “Lose some weight, Nation! Maybe that’ll help!”

Out of breath, I did not respond. I devoted every day after that to practicing. Her comment motivated me. I did not allow her perceptions of weight and dance to stop me from mastering “Hurt.” In the show, I performed stronger and was a better dancer with tougher skin.

Yet even before that moment, I was a princess of tough skin to make it through so many transitions. My family moved from Queens to Westbury when I was ten years old. I left a small, multiracial private school in Queens where not one race was in the majority. In Westbury, I entered a larger public school with a black majority and without any friends. By the time that I was at home in Westbury’s public schools, I moved again to LUHI. Two weeks after my horrible first day of school, still apprehensive, I stepped on the bus to go on the freshman retreat. I had just heard the news that I made the dance team, which made the school a little more tolerable. I finally felt that I had a niche in the school. I had yet another outlet for my anxiety, fear, and stress. Gradually, I revealed my bubbly, outgoing, extroverted personality. I introduced myself to peers and held conversations that were nothing like my interactions with Alvin and Eric. By the time that I danced in my first pep rally at homecoming, I was in love with LUHI.

Eventually, I got to know Alvin and Eric. I now understand that the boys were joking on that first day and really did not mean any harm. They were trying to make my first day of school more comfortable and enjoyable with jokes but were not aware that they were offensive.

In a way, I am thankful for the boys from gym class, my cousin who called me dweeb, and my harsh dance teacher. Through life-shaping transitions, my confidence has been tested many times. I am stronger with every encounter with adversity. I may not be a natural born princess, but I am still a princess. I am Nyla.

Nyla Nation, a graduate of Long Island Lutheran High School, is a freshman at Spelman College.