Rockstar Humans of the Month: Social Justice Spotlight!
Conference Countdown: 8 Days!
Dear BRAVE Humans,
Today we are just eight days away from our Live BRAVE Conference event! I am SO excited! I mean, think about it, who doesn’t love to be in shared space with their tribe, their family, their people?! Ya know what I mean?! Anyway, I CANNOT WAIT to spend the day with all of you, all of the warriors for love, advocates, activists, agents of change, leaders, and fiercely good humans. Opportunities for people to come together is the best way to teach and learn. And, on the 24th we will do just that, with a focus on teaching and learning for social justice.
In this post, I want to highlight three special social justice warriors who will be featured as our keynote speakers at the Live BRAVE Conference.
Conference Keynote Speakers:
Brittany Kenyon. Jamiah Bennett. And Heather Norris.
Each of them has taught me a tremendous amount about social justice, advocacy, leadership, peace and love. They are my tribe, my people, my BRAVE family. All three of these amazing humans truly embody the BRAVE mission, in their own unique way. They have all continued to inspire and challenge me, and all those around them, to be the best version of themselves. The three humans walk the brave walk, they don’t just talk the talk. I love that about each of them! Brittany, Jamiah and Heather have all contributed to positive change in this world and continue to work towards making it a better place for all of us each and every day.
So, let me give y’all some further insight into their greatness, their advocacy and activism and their BRAVE story!
First up to bat is Brittany Kenyon!
Brittany is a senior nursing student at UConn. She’s graduating in May and will fulfill her dream of being the best nurse she can be (if and when I ever need a nurse, I hope I am lucky enough to have someone as intelligent, compassionate and fun as BK). Brittany worked with the BRAVE as an intern during the Spring 2016 (shout out to @EmBirkett, @IlannaGib, @Mander$, @LiaTria, @AdrienneGutz, @MarAmador). During this semester she served as an amazing mentor for the girls at Sedgwick Middle School. The following year she was the UConn chapter Vice President. I first met Brittany when she was a first year student at UConn and I knew right away she was an incredible and very special person. So, when we needed interns for the Spring 2016 semester I reached out and recruited her for the job. Thank goodness she agreed and we both never looked back! Brittany has an amazing work ethic and does life with an ALL IN attitude. She is admired by very many for her organizational skills, timeliness and thoughtfulness. One of my favorite things about Brittany is her ability to ask questions. She is the queen of questions! All of this has contributed to her wonderful and powerful contributions to BRAVE over the past several years.
One of the main vehicles through which we achieve our mission at BRAVE is through community partnership projects. Engaging with our local and global communities has provided us with many rewarding learning experiences. Right from the start of the semester Brittany was dedicated to community engagement, she spoke about it passionately and set goals for herself in typical Brittany fashion. Back in early February of 2016 we were in the car on the way back to to campus from mentoring and I introduced her to a potential project called H2O for Life. Her excitement and determination from that first conversation was unbelievable. Brittany’s dedication to this project was remarkable. Her implementation of this social justice initiative is an example of the true purpose of community partnership projects and brave leadership. Through the process of this project Brittany emerged as a true brave leader and brave mentor. The culmination of this project provided clean water resources to 310 students at KAVC Community Centre school in Uganda, Africa. This project, and specifically her contributions to it, embody thoughtfulness in a way that is so much bigger than she even realizes. The H2O for Life Project was one of the single most thoughtful projects that BRAVE has been a part of.
Brittany is honest, fierce and confident. Her authenticity transcends to all parts of her life including community service, education, work, travel and everything in between. Brittany is BRAVE enough to what is fun about this social justice warrior work and also BRAVE enough to do what is very hard about this work. Her loyalty to BRAVE and our mission is amazing. I am so proud of her and so happy to have her speak on March 24th.
On deck is Jamiah Bennett!
Jamiah is a second year student at the UConn, studying Sociology and Journalism. And, actually, Brittany introduced me to Jamiah. The night before Jamiah’s interview for the BRAVE internship, Brittany called me and told me all about how awesome Jamiah was and what a good fit she would be for our team. None of us looked back because as of today I have had the privilege of working with and getting to know Jamiah for the past 14 months. In the Spring 2017 semester, as a first year college student, Jamiah was the Social Media Intern for BRAVE. One thing about Jamiah is, you would never guess she is as young as she really is. Jamiah has a beautiful, and very mature soul, that made her contributions to our team even more special and unique. In addition to her work during the semester, as an intern, Jamiah also participated in BRAVE’s summer service learning trip. In partnership with the local community, Jamiah and the BRAVE Team were able to build a school in Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic.
One of J’s (as I like to call her!) major accomplishments as an intern was last year, in March of 2017. She played a vital role in the planning, preparation and implementation of our first conference event as an organization, the “BRAVE Leadership Conference.” It was attended by 102 students and professionals. Due to the hard work of Jamiah, and her fellow interns, the event was a great success. In addition to her role of support behind the scenes, Jamiah and Andrea (fellow BRAVE humans) also submitted a proposal to run a breakout session, focused on being a leader on social media, on the day of the conference. Their proposal was accepted and their presentation was exceptional.
I should also point out that J traveled to Provo, Utah in November 2017 to co-present at the Digital Citizenship Summit! Most of her work with us at BRAVE was as a leader of our digital spaces and she was asked to speak with me about how we work together (student and adult) to do our best work on BRAVE’s digital platforms. It is important to note, Jamiah has taught me so much more about digital spaces that I ever knew. I will always be grateful for her patience and hard work!
Jamiah is an intelligent, passionate and hardworking young woman. She has lofty expectations for herself and often surpasses those same lofty expectations when put to the test. Jamiah is probably one of the most engaged and involved humans I have ever known; she is absolutely determined to learn and grow with every experience and opportunity life has to offer. Jamiah is all about going above and beyond. And always with a smile. Her enthusiasm for BRAVE and our mission is relentless and completely contagious. She is a truly fabulous human and we are so fortunate to have her sharing her story with us at the conference next week.
And, last but certainly not least in the keynote line up, is Heather Norris!
I have had the honor to work with and get to know Heather as a BRAVE teammate since January of 2017. During the Spring 2017 semester, Heather was one of our Mentoring Interns, working at both Sedgwick Middle School (as Brittany did!) and Conard High School. During her interview, I am not sure I had ever met anyone more nervous or more quiet. But, still, something about her convinced me we needed her on the BRAVE team. And I was right, we did need her. I am very happy to report hiring her that day was a GREAT decision. Heather spent her entire time with BRAVE discovering her voice (and, now, she plans to share it with all of us on March 24th). This continued into the summer of 2017. Just as Jamiah did, Heather also committed to BRAVE’s summer service learning trip. In partnership with the local community, Heather and all of us on the BRAVE Team were able to build a school in Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic.
As a Mentoring Intern specifically, Heather worked to implement the BRAVE mission with two groups of secondary students. She was responsible for all of planning and implementation of programming in these two schools throughout the semester. All of the programming she developed focused on themes of self-love, kindness, communication skills, leadership skills and more. I had the opportunity, along with teacher advisers and board directors, to observe many programs Heather prepared and implemented. The students were consistently engaged and truly enjoyed their time working with Heather. She was employing her passion to teach and learn with students, supporting their development into leaders as well as her own.
Heather is an incredibly brave, hardworking, and compassionate human. Her growth and development while on the BRAVE team, as a human and a leader, was inspiring and exceptional. She is a true role model for all of the young people she has worked with, at Sedgwick and Conard, in the Dominican Republic and today as a pre-service teacher. She is also role model for all of us, too; teaching and learning about being BRAVE is who she is. It has been so much fun to know her and to learn and grow with her. I look forward to her sharing her most powerful and important self, through her keynote at the conference.
Please join the conversation on teaching and learning for social justice at our Second Annual Conference on March 24th. We have so much to teach and learn with Brittany, Jamiah and Heather, as well as all other participants and presenters.
And, if you know Britt, J and/or Heather, share some love and encouragement for them as they prepare their messages for all of us next week!
Stay awesome friends,