Meet the Students

The following bios contain direct responses which were obtained through brief interviews and translated onto text from both current students and active tutors/employees involved in the program. The purpose of these bios are to show the result of the program and to provide students with the opportunity to illustrate their hard work, tell their own stories, and explain their goals in their own voices. The students are categorized by grade year and listed in alphabetical order depending on involvement in the program up to three months.

Kyren Coats

Age 10, 5th Grade

“Nothings too big if nothings too small”

I’ve been in the program a little over five weeks; I think I work better at the clubhouse online because I like to work online at my own pace. 

Gail tries to stay on you when you’re doing your work and she encourages you; I see her as my teacher. The teachers at school aren’t that helpful in school verses here where it’s hands on. Gail talks to me on my level, and is better than teachers at school because I understand more when she talks to me. I learn better with someone like Gail because she’s someone I know versus strangers at school. 

So far I’m starting to learn a lot more and I’m not losing focus like I used to. Gym is my favorite subject because I like playing basketball, my brother who passed liked to play basketball.

Here at the program we get to do a lot of stuff you usually wouldn’t do at school, like being able to draw or learning how to paint with your friends for fun. I felt good to be a part of the art because it says Black Lives Matter and that Black people don’t need to be disrespected. I also helped paint “Love is love”; what that says to me is to be more respectful to everyone. With art, sometimes I would draw or paint outside of the clubhouse. My favorite thing I’ve ever drawn is a picture of my brother; when painting I like using the colors red and blue since blue is my brother’s favorite color and red is my favorite color. I think I would like to continue art even after I leave the clubhouse. Even though painting the mural scared me because I had to stand on the ladder, I was still excited because I got to paint the clouds. I’ve also started playing the flute but I think I want to switch to piano because it seems a lot easier for me since I have a piano at home and I have been playing around with it since last year.

For the future, thinking of high school, I think I’d rather be in person for school;  I think I would like to go into something like a business because I like the process of making money and money management. Thinking about college, I think I would like to go somewhere close and in state, and I think I would like to study sports broadcasting since I like sports so much. 

Lanayjah English

Age: 12, 6th Grade

“Reality is wrong, dreams are for real” – Tupac

I have been in the program for four months. I feel good about the program and I enjoy it because I get help with my work and paid to do it. I feel like I have benefitted by being with the program because my grades have improved a lot since last year when I was not in the program. 

The art I participated in at the clubhouse is important because of the important messages behind them such as “Love is Love”; I painted “Reality is wrong, dreams are for real by Tupac in the front room of the clubhouse, and I helped with the “ Love is Love” mural, and the mural with Curtis. I had fun while painting with Curtis, we all worked as a team, and I especially feel good because I can go to school and brag about being a part of the murals. My favorite art piece is “Hope” in the front room, above the white board. 

 In five years, I will have a job and be in the 11th grade at Pioneer Highschool; I will be

working towards getting accepted to Harvard to study law.

EJ Lewis

Age: 14, 9th grade

EJ is a freshman in high school and has been attending the HOPE program for 3 months. He is growing to enjoy his time at Educate Youth, especially after seeing how his grades have improved since he began attending. He also likes that he can use the stipend he earns to purchase things he’d like.

In 5 years, EJ will have graduated high school. He hopes to be attending college, preferably out of state, to study music.

Gabriel Moore

Age: 15, 10th GRADE

I came into the program in February of last year, so I have been in the program for almost a year. I’ve never really gone to any after school program like this. When I do all my homework here at Educate Youth I feel like I have free time at home to relax. I can also connect with people from different backgrounds, friends, and others I don’t normally get to work with. I feel like the program has prepared me for getting back to school in person. In the past I was a lot more closed minded before entering the program but because of discussions and things we do here I am a lot more open at this moment in time. 

I am currently enrolled in classes at Washtenaw Technical Middle College (WTMC) in a program that allows you to take college classes and high school classes. I like school way more now in person because I learned a lot of interpersonal skills when I do interact with people. 

Here at the program we got to paint a mural with Curtis Wallace; it was really cool talking and painting with Curtis. It feels good to be a part of something like that because I hadn’t done many projects in the community. I think the mural  stands as a sign of unity; all people can see it and have it serve as a symbol of pride.

I’m starting auto mechanics in the fall; I hope in 5 years I will have graduated with my Bachelors degree. Michigan Tech sounds promising right now and I would like to study automotive engineering. I’ve always really liked hand on things, computers, cars, and things like that. I’m not sure where I’ll be but if I’m anywhere close to the program I’d like to come back as a tutor.

Kierra Owens

aGE: 15, 10TH GRADE

“My main goal is to  be an educated black woman”

I have been in this program for three years now and I feel like I can count on this program whenever I need help. This is a great place where I’ve built friendships; ever since I came here my grades have been improving and moving to a place I’d like them to be. My grades have improved a lot compared to before I started. For example, Gail is helping me as well as teaching me. In general she teaches me to be a better person. The purpose of the program is to graduate and find a quiet work space since I can’t work at home. Gail provides that for us and is building us up to become better people. 

We participate in different art related projects during our time here. I started doing art because quarantine was boring, I found an outlet through it. I try to keep a positive mindset and whenever I have freetime I like to paint. I also write positive messages around the clubhouse because it’s for anyone that just looks up and can read it. It’s always important to keep a positive mindset. I just truly enjoy art and I’m really good at it when I’m guided through it. My favorite piece is a sunrise with birds because I worked so hard on it. I also love art because of Curtis; he makes it so fun. We started doing art with him around 2019. I originally started blending colors and eventually it transformed into blending a lot more colors into different fazes. When I paint I paint more bible verses than regular words because they speak positivity.

When I graduate high school I’d like to go to school for business, but I also like cosmetology. I see myself having my own business. I wanna take one step at a time. As I’m starting a business, I’d like to continue to grow. One of my biggest goals is to make my parents proud. 

Ramses Leon

age: 16, 10th GRADE

I’ve been in the program for three years now; it’s nice and cool that people get help with their school work because not everyone has that opportunity to get free help with school. It’s a great resource that helps with school work. 

I think this program helps me be less lazy and be more focused, not just in school but in day to day tasks but it also helps me feel more focused to strive for more in life. Through the program we have the opportunity to visit several different colleges but personally, I thought Bowie and Howard were especially nice. 

The program gave me the option to have some form of musical outlet; I’ve been learning to play the flute for a few months about three and a half months.I also have the opportunity to participate in different art projects through the program. My favorite art piece that i’ve done is the waves (see picture). I wanted to paint something and I couldn’t think of anything at the time but the inspiration soon came from a tsunami; basically a huge wave. I feel positive about my painting, but I always see an opportunity or places where I could’ve done better.  It serves as a reminder for me to do better in the future. Later on I hope to see my art hung up somewhere in a museum. 

In five years I see myself going to college all while searching for a good handful of careers to prepare me for the future and beyond. I also see myself as an artist, an explorer, and someone who researches through languages and cultures while being at those locations. I am currently learning Spanish, but in terms of learning on location, I have nowhere specific in mind, I just wanna go anywhere possible. I would like to study different people and languages, how they function as a whole, how useful they are, how they teach other people, and how people become accustomed to their own languages and to just learn as a whole.

Jordan Dorsey

age: 17, 11th grade

I have been in this program for two years and I like the help that I get here; in the past it was just me doing work at home, and I just didn’t have that much help in the past work wise. 

Through the program I’ve had better grades than before, I’ve also met a lot of new people, and I’ve truly enjoyed my time here. The best part of the program is meeting new friends and people that come throughout the program. I also enjoy the college visits we go on; we had the chance to go to Michigan State which I really enjoyed.  

The program gave us the opportunity to participate in the mural and I felt good about it as a person to be a part of it. What the mural says to me is that things are going to continue to grow with new things to come. I was also introduced to the saxophone here through the program; I’ve been playing the saxophone for longer than a week but my progress is improving. Honestly, we all love music and having the outlet of music here is a good thing because it introduces people to new things we need in everyday life today. 

In five years I would like to get a career in technology and go to school to pursue programming and hands-on technology. I like making programs and things like HTML coding within a specific program for computers.

Morgan Horgrow

Age: 16, 11 grade

I have been in the program about three and a half years; It’s a really good program. I feel really comfortable being here, I’ve gotten really great opportunities to help the community, and I’ve met a lot of great people. I had never been on any college visits until coming to the program, but through the program I was able to visit the following: Owens College, Wayne State, Bowie State, University of Toledo, and the EMU Rec Center. I’ve also had the opportunity to be featured in several articles and the Educate Youth “Spiritual Warriors” book (See page 10 -LINK-).

Though I only do art here, through this program I realized that you don’t have to be an artist to make good work. In the past I wasn’t really into painting or drawing but once I came here I realized not everyone was an artist and no one judges here. 

I was also introduced to other forms of art through the program such as music. I’ve been playing piano since I was 11 but I didn’t take actual lessons until I started coming here. Gail introduced all of us to lessons and instruments since the Ypsi schooling doesn’t have music classes or anything so she brought music to the clubhouse so we could have that music opportunity. 

For me, a lot of things have changed and a lot of good things are coming my way because of Educate Youth.

For my five year plan I want to be finished with college, and I want to be a paralegal because my stepmom is a paralegal and I find myself inspired by her work. I would also like to go straight into the workplace after school. I plan on going to Washtenaw because I only need two years for what I want to do.

I have been in the program about three and a half years; It’s a really good program. I feel really comfortable being here, I’ve gotten really great opportunities to help the community, and I’ve met a lot of great people. I had never been on any college visits until coming to the program, but through the program I was able to visit the following: Owens College, Wayne State, Bowie State, University of Toledo, and the EMU Rec Center. I’ve also had the opportunity to be featured in several articles and the Educate Youth “Spiritual Warriors” book (See page 10 -LINK-).

Though I only do art here, through this program I realized that you don’t have to be an artist to make good work. In the past I wasn’t really into painting or drawing but once I came here I realized not everyone was an artist and no one judges here. 

I was also introduced to other forms of art through the program such as music. I’ve been playing piano since I was 11 but I didn’t take actual lessons until I started coming here. Gail introduced all of us to lessons and instruments since the Ypsi schooling doesn’t have music classes or anything so she brought music to the clubhouse so we could have that music opportunity. 

For me, a lot of things have changed and a lot of good things are coming my way because of Educate Youth.

For my five year plan I want to be finished with college, and I want to be a paralegal because my stepmom is a paralegal and I find myself inspired by her work. I would also like to go straight into the workplace after school. I plan on going to Washtenaw because I only need two years for what I want to do.

Sierra English

Age: 18, class of 2020

I’m currently enrolled in American International University online in Atlanta for my Associates degree in business. I work better when I can work on my own in an asynchronous setting since I like to move at my own pace. If I did school in person I would have to do school in the morning, and it fits better in my schedule to work at night. 

I started the H.O.P.E. afterschool with Educate Youth in 7th grade; I think the program helped me accept the fact that homework has to get done and it installed that discipline. Gail teaches things that we usually don’t get taught in school during the summer program. For example, before the program I had no clue there were more than two genders, but now I am more informed. 

The volunteers that come to the program genuinely come to try to help which was encouraging. As I said before, Gail allowed a free space to discuss topics not usually looked

at in school such as gender communication and other important conversations we should be having. Personally, this program helped improve my own speech and shaped me as an individual person. I’m able to be myself a lot more now; I started closed off but now I’m out, starting conversations, engaging with others, and laughing and other things. 

In present time, I am still partially involved in the program as I’ve created a new five year plan for myself. I will not lose myself again; a year ago I was in dark space and I had to pull myself out of there. I owe it to myself to not go back down that road and to push through. When I graduate in 2023 I would like to take a gap year, get my teaching degree, move to Texas, and  go to school for cosmetology.

Justin Carthage

Age: 21, class of 2018

I am a senior at Wayne State majoring in NeuroScience; I got into this research program called “ReBUILD Detroit” which prepares students for conducting research; we then had to connect with a research mentor over the summer, and present it at a research conference. Originally, I was contemplating going into biomedical engineering but since I got into the research program I decided to switch to neuroscience.

I started Educate Youth freshman year of highschool until my senior year, then I came back and started mentoring my junior year of college. When I first started the program it provided me with a space to focus and do homework outside of school and converse with other people. The best part of the program was the overall support and connections I gained from other people. English was not my best subject but through the support, guidance, and tutoring of the program tutors I was able to become a better writer. 

The program shaped me as a person by providing me with resources and allowing me to be involved in different discussions that include current events or topics we usually don’t talk about elsewhere. The program allowed us to discuss what happens and get more familiar with our society. It helped me have those discussions and be willing to have those discussions. It helped me to better support others and have guided conversations. 

When I became a tutor I realized helping the children was something that I would like to continue doing so I eventually became a peer mentor at my university; I help to direct them rather than answering questions. 

I am still currently involved in the program and I plan on staying on as a tutor. As for my new five year plan, I’m planning on taking a gap year then I’m going to med school to become a pediatrician. I am also thinking of working in the hospital as a senior in med school.

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