Meet Our Summer Fellow – Maija Hall
“I tell young people to prepare themselves as best they can for a world that grows more challenging every day. To get the best education they can, and couple that education with real-life experience in social justice work.” These words of the civil rights activist and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond echo deeply in my mind when I think about my future work and career. They focus on two things that to me matter most: education and social justice. My name is Maija Hall and I am excited to be a summer 2013 fellow with the Rodel Foundation of Delaware. My hometown is Brooklyn, NY and I recently graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts in New York City. Following my fellowship with Rodel, I will attend University of Massachusetts-Amherst as a psychology major.
My interest in education stems from my work as a College Access Ambassador with the TeenSHARP College Preparation and Leadership Program. As an ambassador, I learned about the disparities in college access between minority and non-minority students during TeenSHARP’s weekly leadership seminars. Last summer as a TeenSHARP intern, I co-facilitated the Early Action Network, an online college prep program designed to help minority high school students understand the college application and admissions process and complete key components of their college applications. This provided me with critical knowledge and experience to initiate a similar program in the New York City thanks to the wonderful support from the Sadie Nash ELLA Fellowship Program. Over the past 12 months I designed and implemented a “College Crash Course” program in my community which sought to increase college access for minority students by teaching them about various aspects of the college application and admissions process. During the College Crash Course students also learned about the persistent social injustices and the negative effects they are on the students of color and their access to higher education. As part of the course, I engaged students in brainstorming the solutions for improvement of the status quo and discussion about their role as young people in bridging disparities in college going. Participation in the TeenSHARP and Sadie Nash Leadership programs introduced me to and sparked my passion for the issues of educational justice. It also provided me with an experience of doing the grassroots work in college access.
Being a fellow with the Rodel Foundation of Delaware offers an exciting opportunity for me to learn about education policy in the state of Delaware and nationwide. Much of the work that I have done so far has been focused on college-access and peer education and I am excited to learn about “grasstop” approaches to obtaining social justice in education and to become part of the larger education reform movement in Delaware. I am certain that the lessons and experiences that I gain here will shape all my future endeavors in college and beyond.
Related Topics: college readiness