The .edu Project at B.E.S.T.


May 1, 2015

The .edu Project at B.E.S.T. 3rd Annual Professional Development Workshop

On Friday, May 1st, close to 100 college professionals from Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore area independent schools, Maryland colleges and universities, and Baltimore non-profits came together for the 3rd annual .edu Project at B.E.S.T. Professional Development Workshop to hear first-hand about the experiences of first generation college students. This event was hosted by B.E.S.T. in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools and the Johns Hopkins University.

Wes Moore, Founder and CEO of BridgeEdU, opened the morning by first sharing with us his perspective on the historical events that unfolded in Baltimore earlier that week. His words were honest, informative and therapeutic. Having spent time growing up in Baltimore and as a Baltimore city resident, Wes is dedicated to changing the college-going culture in Baltimore and as a result founded BridgeEdU – a unique, personalized, and affordable first year college program that combines core academic courses, real-world internships and service experiences.  It is designed to help students attend and graduate from college. Wes’s words to the audience were particularly poignant at a time of great unrest in the city of Baltimore.

Following Wes’s opening session, a panel of first generation college graduates from Baltimore shared lessons they learned and insight gained through their journeys to college. Tuesday Barnes, a B.E.S.T. and Bryn Mawr School Alumna ’09 and now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park shared how events in her life helped her family make the choice to seek educational opportunities to change the trajectory of her life. She also shared her commitment to and accomplishment of receiving her college education and subsequent degrees 100% debt-free. Verlando Brown, who lives in the heart of West Baltimore and was raised by a single mother, shared how he overcame the odds to attend and graduate from college and is in the process of completing his Master’s degree at the University of Baltimore. He emphasized the important role seeking out the abundant resources and supports available on his college campus played in his ability to persist. India Leach, College Placement Advisor at KIPP Through College, spoke about the many steps along her path that led her from her plans in middle school to a cosmetology license, a degree from University of Maryland, College Park and a Master’s degree from Towson University. Her experiences inform the important work she does now in supporting the next generation of college students in Baltimore.

B.E.S.T. is grateful to Wes Moore and the staff of BridgeEdU, our wonderful panelists and our three moderators: Megan Hall, Director of KIPP Through College; Bryan Nance, Director of Admissions for the SEED School of Maryland; and Calvin Wise, Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Johns Hopkins University.

Panelists Tuesday Barnes '09 B.E.S.T. Alumna, India Leach, and Verlando Brown with Wes Moore

Panelists Tuesday Barnes ’09 B.E.S.T. Alumna, India Leach, and Verlando Brown with Wes Moore

Panelist Verlando Brown with Jessica Suriano, Executive Director of B.E.S.T. and Chair of the First Generation Affinity Group and Stu Simms, President of B.E.S.T.'s Board of Trustees

Panelist Verlando Brown with Jessica Suriano, Executive Director of B.E.S.T. and Chair of the First Generation Affinity Group and Stu Simms, President of B.E.S.T.’s Board of Trustees

Wes Moore with Moderators Bryan Nance, Megan Hall and Calvin Wise

Wes Moore with Moderators Bryan Nance, Megan Hall and Calvin Wise