B.E.S.T. Students and Alumni Impacting Baltimore
August 31, 2017
B.E.S.T. students and alumni have had a busy summer giving back to their community. Aissatou, Nehemiah, and Aniya know what it’s like to give back to their community in a meaningful way. For several years, they have committed to working with Baltimore City youth in the Bridges Summer Institute Program, a five-week academic enrichment program for rising 4th through 12th graders living in Baltimore City. While Bridges initially started as a summer program, it has since grown to a year-round program, providing support to students on the campuses of two independent schools, St. Paul’s School and Gilman. Bridges is an Admissions partner of B.E.S.T. and each year B.E.S.T. works with Bridges to support some of their students through the process.
Over the course of their involvement, Aissatou, Nehamiah, and Aniya have each benefitted personally, either as a participant, a volunteer, or as a Head Counselor. Their commitment to Bridges runs deep, while their wisdom and insight reflect the significant impact they are having on the students they serve.
In the summer of 2013, Aissatou B. started volunteering with Bridges and has since logged 366 hours. Upon graduating from St. Paul’s School for Girls in 2016, she was chosen to be a Head Counselor, for the past two summers. She currently attends Ohio University and is studying Sociology/Criminology & African American Studies. She values the opportunity to see student growth every year: “I come back every year because I see myself in the kids. I grew up in the same environments that the kids grew up in, and environments play a big part in people’s personalities, so I know where they’re coming from and what they can amount to. It’s cool to be able to watch the kids grow over the years, physically, socially, and intellectually. I have grown during my time with Bridges and continue to grow through the various perspectives and individuals that are here.”
Nehemiah P. has seen Bridges through several different lenses, first as a participant when he was in 4th grade and more recently in his role as a Head Counselor. Upon graduating from St. Paul’s in 2017, he joined the team as a Head Counselor this summer. Nehemiah reflected on his own experience in Bridges and how much he has benefitted from the program, stating: “Bridges is a place like no other where you are put in situations that force you to be outside of your comfort zone and make decisions that ultimately make you become a better person. You get exposure to things you could never even imagine with a program like Bridges.”
Aniya M., Bryn Mawr Class of 2018, brings yet a different perspective, as her younger brother is currently involved in the Bridges program at St. Paul’s as a 7th grader. Aniya’s involvement throughout the year as well as the summer has given her a unique perspective, “What I like about working with Bridges is getting to see [the students] grow, learn, and have fun. Being there for them during the summer and throughout the school year is really important to me.”
The direct impact that Aissatou, Nehemiah and Aniya have made goes beyond the personal relationships and interactions they’ve had with the students in the small community of Bridges participants. They are seeing first-hand the impact they can have on the greater Baltimore community and just how important these engagement opportunities are to the future of the city. B.E.S.T. is so proud of our students and Alumni for their leadership.