Here’s more about the inaugural class of the Hope Reichbach Fund and their work in summer 2012:
Intern Ben Joson knocked on dozens of doors in East New York on behalf of VOCAL-NY, seeking signatures to end the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy. Ariel Estrella wrote about hundreds of public mural projects for Groundswell, the youth arts organization for which she interned. As part of her internship with Brooklyn Defender Services, Brenda Grande shadowed attorneys in the courtroom during arraignments and sentencing hearings, an experience that affirmed her aspirations of becoming an immigration lawyer. Nia Gumbs worked in the classroom at The HOPE Program, a nonprofit job readiness program, helping its students learn the skills they needed to find a job. Colleen Mims’ helped coordinate a major event for the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, a community development organization that partners with residents and businesses to improve the quality of life of Central Brooklyn.
Benedict J. Joson was born in Bulacan, Philippines, where he spent the first 5 years of his life. In 1996, Benedict moved with his grandparents to New York City. To better integrate into the culture and to learn the English language, he attended St. Sebastian School in Woodside, New York. This experience opened his mind to the possibilities of education and society. He graduated with achievements in 2007 and continued on to Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood, New York. Academic, athletic, and extracurricular programs nurtured him in body, mind, and spirit. He graduated in 2010 and moved on to CUNY Hunter College in New York, New York. Eager to contribute and learn more about campus life and the college, he decided to join the Undergraduate Student Government. His involvement has been a catalyst for a future in service and leadership in the government and society.
Brenda Aracely Grande is from New York City. She is currently a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College, majoring in English, with a minor in Law and Public Policy. She is interested in law and plans to be an immigration lawyer because she has been surrounded by the political prejudices against undocumented immigrants. She likes to be active in Latino issues and is a member of MEChA, the Chicano club on campus, for which she is the treasurer. Her other interests include literature, which is why she decided to become an English major. She also enjoys writing and enhancing her writing skills.
Nia Gumbs is 19 years old and attends SUNY Geneseo. She is currently a sophomore, majoring in Childhood with Special Education. In 2011, she co-founded the volunteer group Hearts for Sammy, a group that raises money each year to donate to the Children’s Heart Link Foundation for Congenital Heart Defect Disease. In 2012, she organized the Geneseo Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin. She is also involved in various organizations, such as Women’s Leadership Institute, the Black Student Union, and FACE AIDS. In fall of 2012, she will be the public relations representative for FACE AIDS and part of the Women’s Leadership Professional Development Team. After graduation, she wants to teach in inner-city schools, because she feels that she can relate to those students and help them, since she used to be an inner-city school student herself. She understands the struggle for students who attend inner city schools and, as someone dedicated to working towards success, she feels that it is her job to give back and to help disadvantaged students to excel.
Colleen Mims is a sophomore at Kingsborough Community College, majoring in Business Administration. Throughout the past five years, Colleen has contributed to her home, Brooklyn, by participating in groups like Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Center, College for Kids, Kingsborough’s Honor Society, Student World Assembly and others. She has tutored children in music, English and Math; opened an art gallery gift shop; helped Brooklyn’s environment by participating in campus clean-ups; planted trees; and promoted good environmental practice by creating compost piles and coming up with ideas to help her college’s urban farm. She writes poetry and participates in student publications, Business Council and other clubs at Kingsborough. Colleen plans on starting her own daycare by age 22 and attending Howard University after she graduates from Kingsborough. She currently operates an online jewelry and clothing business.
Ariel Estrella was born and raised in Queens. She studied at Hunter College High School and graduated from City-As-School, and is currently a student at Macalester College. She intends to double major in English and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She participates in many school organizations and committees relating to gender and sexuality issues, including organizations that promote feminism, anti-sexism, the LGBTQ community, sex-positivity, and all-gender spaces/issues. Off-campus, she plans to begin working with a nonprofit that hosts a mentoring program for young women. She is also passionate about art, community activism, fighting against gentrification, and improving access to better education and community resources for urban youth (especially those from historically marginalized identities). She hopes to create even more opportunities in the future for empowering youth and the communities in which they live, carrying on the transformative spirit of Hope herself in the best way that she can.