Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During August 2012...


Wednesday, August 22, 2012 12:37 am

My whirlwind summer in New York City has come to an end, and life back at home in Charlotte with my parents and my sisters and my dog seems strangely calm in comparison. Looking back on this summer, despite all the challenges, I know that I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything. I have grown and developed in ways that I couldn’t have imagined beforehand.

Back in May, I envisioned this summer being full of confirmations. Confirmation of my friendships, of my “life plan”, of my love of city life, of my professional strengths and weaknesses, and confirmation of who I want to become. But life had another plan for my summer. It wasn’t too long before I began to question much of what I wanted to be confirmed. In reality, I became unsure of pretty much everything. It was scary at first, but I began to realize that I needed to start anew. Go back to square one. What do I enjoy? What am I good at? What frustrates me in a work environment? Where do I thrive? Where do I fail? How can I market myself? What are my passions? These are not the kinds of questions I want to be asking myself the summer before my senior year, when many of my friends are well on their way towards job offers and dream careers. But like it or not, this is where I find myself. It seems as though my journey of self-discovery is just beginning.

Interning at the National School Climate Center taught me so much about responsibility, humility, being passionate about your work, how to maintain professional relationships, how to be trustworthy and accountable, when to speak up (and when to hold your tongue), how to be enthusiastic no matter what, the importance of efficiency, and about the world of education reform. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful, intelligent and passionate people. I also am beginning to refine my understanding of myself and my wants/needs in a work environment. Having your boss affirm your talents after observing you ONLY in a work environment is anirreplaceableexperience. I learned to not dismiss my “people skills” and my ability to communicate as merely a personality trait, but rather as a marketable valuable skill. I learned that in order to feel fulfilled in my job, I need my work to be creative and innovative in some way. I learned that not only to I work well with others, I work best with others and need a collaborative and cooperative environment to thrive. I learned that excel is painfully boring and numbers do not excite me. I learned that no matter how cool the job or meaningful the cause, if you do not enjoy the people you work with you will not be happy. I learned that it takes a very special, very driven type of person to succeed in a research based non-profit.

Everything I learned this summer is because of my internship experience at the National School Climate Center. And although I don’tforeseemyselfpursuing a job at a research-based non profit in the future, I am so thankful for this incredible opportunity. Discovering what you don’t like is just as important as discovering what you do like, and often challenging experiences offer many more opportunities for growth. I am excited by the chance to re-start my journey of self-discovery and continue to explore my interests, passions and talents. As scary and unsettling as it was to discover that my previous life plan was very off-base and that I don’t like being the person I thought I should become, I’m thankful for my summer of realizations.

I’m beginning my senior year with a renewed thirst for exploration, and in desperate need of a Career Services appointment.


See you back in the dash,


brainstorm queens

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 9:58 pm

Annie, Elizabeth and I spent a couple days brainstorming about the possible ways to make anti-bullying efforts accessible and “cool” for high schoolers. We spent time verbally getting ideas out there, talking and discussing what our experiences with bullying were in high school and how we would have reacted to anti-bullying efforts when we were in high school…. and then we also communicated via google docs, typing out our ideas and editing each other’s thoughts. It was really interesting and fun to collaborate. I learned a lot about myself through this exercise. I really enjoy collaboration and team work and that’s where I thrive the most. Being able to let my creative juices flow in a group setting, no matter what the subject matter, is something that energizes me and makes my work seem fulfilling. As I begin the future job hunt, I know that I will pursue work environments that encourage and require creative group-projects because that is how I best communicate myself. This summer has taught me that I certainly do not shine from behind a computer screen!

Here is an excerpt of our brainstorming session… thought perhaps this would give some insight into what we were attempting to accomplish. We gave this to Jonathan at the end of the week and verbally presented our thoughts to him… he seemed quite impressed!



Main Objectives:

-further bully prevention

-create an appreciative constructive force in schools

-make guidelines for students that complement upstander alliance material

-outline concrete ways for students to get involved

-comprehensive upstander supportive plan

-help students get involved (work with principal, teachers, other students)

-what are effective resources that will engage students?


1. Educational Leadership

• reach out to the school newspaper

◦ opinion pieces, interviews with principal, give students voice

◦ compile & publish anonymous student comments about what is working/what needs to be improved

• reach out to community newspapers

◦ publicize student efforts

• student meeting with local politicians to share upstander efforts in their school

• create a buddy system so that “older” upstanders can mentor “younger” upstanders

• class councils – maybe create a new position

◦ under class president called “upstander in chief”(?)

◦ appointed (by teachers/staff/student leaders) instead of elected

◦ ***make sure the upstander in chief is someone respected by students & teachers alike!!

◦ under the main upstander, create an upstander committee for each class (monthly meetings with the principal

• missions of the upstander committee:

o plan activities for their class that engage everyone in anti-bullying efforts…

o raise money to give out t-shirts to raise awareness of upstander alliance (may sound meaningless, but can really act to unify upstanders, make it seem appealing & “cool”)

o principal could provide dinner/dessert as an incentive for students to attend the meetings

2. Engaging the whole school community

• create more interaction between students and administration through breakout sessions held once or twice a month

◦ set up a system for students to praise efforts being made as well as

point out areas for improvement

• generate more community awareness of upstander efforts

◦ get local stakeholders involved through campaigns

◦ have signs and posters in local stores, organize local run/event

• have principal show commitment to students

◦ principal working with them on problems

◦ will foster trust and a working relationship between students and administration, and will create more dialog for change

3. Assessment

• evaluate what percentage of the student body is involved with the anti-bully movement

◦ survey them to see what types of programs/initiatives they would like to see at the school

◦ survey about bullying in their school, then give teachers the same survey about bullying and publicize results. See if their perspectives about bullying in the school match up!

◦ if not enough students are involved in the upstander alliance, what can be done to make it more appealing and get more students involved? (student voice!)

• involve parents

◦ do they notice that their child feels safe and comfortable at school?

• ensure that there are multiple opportunities for ways for students to participate in the movement throughout the year

4. Policies

• have school council leaders & “upstanders in chief” contribute to the bullying guidelines

◦ hold a brainstorming workshop with principal, teachers and student leaders so that the entire school is involved in creating their anti-bullying policies

◦ in addition to punishing the bully, efforts should be made to increase students’ sense of self-esteem and celebrate uniqueness

◦ make sure that students know that all types of bullying are taken seriously

◦ make sure that students are aware and knowledgeable about the standards

 have posters around classrooms, distribute a copy in student planner

5. Practice

• ensure that the entire school community (teachers, students, parents, and administrators) is on the same page by having meetings throughout the year

◦ important to hear the opinions of all stakeholders

◦ hold forum meetings that allow them to have a say in what they want to see done in the school

◦ stress that bullying outside of school is an important issue (i.e. cyberbullying)



can bully-prevention be cool?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 8:19 pm

A big part of the mission of NSCC, and something that I’m particularly passionate about, is bullying awareness and prevention. Far too many American school children are afraid to attend school because of the tormenting of other students. Although bullying is not a newphenomenon, it is spreading and become crueler at a rate that frightens educators at the city, state and national level. Anti-bullying programs have often been geared towards younger children, with cartoons and interactive computer games and sing-a-long activities. But as more research comes out about bullies, we are learning that often high school aged children, ages 14-18, are at the highest risk for severe bullying activity.

The question is: how can bully prevention programs be “cool” enough to take hold at the high school level?

This is no easy task. Far too often well-meaning educators create programs and events that are deemed “un-cool” and therefore never take hold or spread throughout the campus in the way they intended. As we all remember from high school, all it takes is one group of popular kids claiming something is stupid for the entire school to agree. This has posed a major question for psychologists and bullying experts… how can we target high school students in a way that is meaningful and effective? Jonathan and the other members of NSCC are gathering all the latest bullying research and attempting to create a list of guidelines especially for students in high school to help them become “co-leaders” in the fight against bullying in their schools. The other interns and I played a critical role in this mission because we are closer to the age of high schoolers, and many of us also still have high school aged siblings, so our insight was especially valuable to the NSCC staff. We spent hours brainstormingways to engage high schoolers and how to creatively prevent anti-bullying initiatives from becoming immediate social suicide. It was a fascinating project, we spent time reflecting on our experiences with bullying in high school, and why certain clubs were very popular while other fizzled after one semester. Hearing about other high school experiences and reminiscing on what was important to me back then was a very rewarding experience and I think we really made some progress towards creating the ultimate set of anti-bullying guidelines.

Service Learning

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 6:53 pm

Recently, in the education world, there has been an increase in incorporating community service into lesson plans. Typically these kinds of lesson plans are reserved for high schoolers, but new research suggests that service learning can be useful at any age, even as young as kindergarten. Introducing concepts like giving back, awareness of the needy, heroism, and making a difference can really bring the curriculum to life and help children make connections between the classroom and the world. Another fairly new aspect of service learning research is the impact that it can have on at-risk children in low-income neighborhoods. In previous years, service learning has been reserved for schools in privilegedneighborhoods because lower income schools appeared to “not have anything to give” due to their financial and educational stress. But in reality, low-income schools benefit greatly from service learning based curriculum. It gives the children something unifying and motivating to help them invest in the lessons, and teaches them the importance of making their community a better place. Many people disagree, saying that spending time and effort creating service learning activities takes away from time that could be spent increasing math and reading standardized testing scores… but that is not the case. A public school in Brooklyn that NSCC helped get their service learning curriculum up and running had the biggest increase in test scores in the entire New York City public school system, despite their being labeled as a “failing school” previously. For a variety of reasons, service learning encourages children to invest and succeed and I feel strongly that more needs to be done to teach teachers how service learning can be fun and beneficial to their students.

One of my main final projects at NSCC was to create a Service Learning Database which could then be uploaded to our online Resource Center and accessible by school systems, principals and teachers who are interested in service learning based lessons. I read countless case studies of service learning lessons for every subject and at every grade level, chose the ones that seemed most valuable, and then summarized them and added them to the database. I was also responsible for finding the corresponding “standards” benchmarks which the lesson could complete. This took a lot of careful attention and research on my part, and I’m pretty proud of the completed project! I hope that my database helps teachers get started and makes incorporating service learning into their lesson plans a little easier.

The Poster

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 4:40 pm

PHEW! Time to spread the word

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 4:37 pm

Posters are in – I think they look great, I’ll attach a photo of it. So everythings good to go, we did it. Down to the wire but we did it. Now we have artists venue and promotion all locked down. All that’s left is to hype it on facebook and around town as much as possible I can’t wait to hear about the turnout. Though I can’t be there because I will be back in Maryland I’m really curious to see how everything plays out – hopefully we meet the 1,500 bar minimum necessary.

we must promote!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 4:34 pm

With the show coming up on the 23rd, we’re getting down to the wire. Alex Lin who is in charge of promotion was supposed to have the posters designed and printed by last week so that I can start putting them up but so far his team hasn’t even locked down a design for the poster. According to Alex 2 weeks is enough promotion time for a show in LA but the initial goal was a month of promotion so I think he’s just saying that to cover his tail. It’s a shame I didn’t know he was going to take so long because I probably could have called someone I know from home or wake and made some moves on it long ago.

trial by fire

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 4:34 pm

I don’t know too much about techno (which as I now know is divided into genres such as techno, electro, house, trance, etc..) but apparently the concert were throwing is house. For some reason I thought that I wouldn’t have to know about techno music in order to see/work in the business side of things but turns out I am getting to know the music whether I like it or not. Its actually growing on me. I wish I were going to be here in the 23rd to go to the concert we’ve been working towards but even though I can’t go it’s still fun working towards such a tangible goal.

into the nitty gritty

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 4:33 pm

We sent out 7 requests to seven different artists, which I think of as a “shotgun” approach in that we just throw the offer out there in a wide spray and hope that something works out. Connor was definitely right not to put the offers in the original emails because some of the artists have actually requested less. Urulu and Steve Huerta are both going for 500 apiece plus airfare. One DJ, Carlos Cancela, is not only willing to open for free but we also wont have to pay for airfare because he lives in LA. I had a chance to meet and talk to Carlos and it was really awesome to meet an up and coming DJ, he was completely down to earth and we even have a mutual friend (in real life, not on facebook). His enthusiasm for music was just about as contagious as can be, and he really excited me about the future of music in the 21st century, electronic and otherwise. The other artists we heard back from are Urulu, Worthy and Steve Huerta.

that was close

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 4:33 pm

So we got a venue. Alex Lin to the rescue. Its called King-King in Los Angeles and it seems pretty cool judging by the website. We have settled on 1,500 with the same amount needed in bar sales or else we have to cover the difference. But with good promotion that shouldn’t be a problem. Still waiting on the artists, I’ll keep you posted.

Alexander Adcock (7)
Gracious Addai (3)
Susie Alexander (6)
Assel Aljaied (10)
Megan Archey (7)
Kenneth Bailey (6)
Marco Banfi (3)
Johanna Beach (8)
Jessica Blackburn (8)
Tiffany Blackburn (9)
Meredith Bragg (9)
Quentin Brillantes (8)
Samuel Buchanan (5)
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