Summer 2015

Over the Summer of 2015, our community of young leaders working in Hope’s footsteps extended to 20 total Fellows! The five Fellows who joined us this summer were selected from an incredibly competitive pool of applicants, and proved themselves to be passionate, bright, and incredibly well-suited to deepen our relationships with our recurring Host Organizations and to serve as ambassadors for new ones. These Fellows came from various backgrounds, both city and private universities, and though all of them live in New York City most of them are first-generation American. Read on to learn more about their work this summer and beyond!

2015 Hope Fund Fellows (from left to right): Semhal Gessesse, Kareem Watson, Rahilou Diallo, Arianna Flores Perez, and Chenisvel Nunez

2015 Hope Fund Fellows (from left to right): Semhal Gessesse, Kareem Watson, Rahilou Diallo, Arianna Flores Perez, and Chenisvel Nunez

Semhal Gessesse interned at the Legal Aid Society, where she worked in the field in neighborhoods all over Brooklyn, collecting testimonies and evidence to provide to defense attorneys.

Throughout this Summer, Legal Aid has taught me so much. From being able to immerse myself into neighborhoods I had previously never heard of or even considered going to, to seeing a different side of law where evidence and the actual defense argument is important, I have gained so much.

Semhal studies Politics and Social & Cultural Analysis at New York University, in hopes of becoming a lawyer upon graduating law school. In addition to being first-generation American, her parents immigrating here from Ethiopia, she is also a first-generation college student. Interning at non-profits and at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office has reinforced her passion for social change and working in public interest law.

Kareem Watson interned at VOCAL-NY, a grassroots network of activists working to create healthy and just communities.

Hope for Brooklyn means Brooklyn not being a trap. It means hope for all those living there especially poor minorities. I means people can imagine living and not surviving and their kids having proper education and the only thought of college goes beyond CUNY. It means Brooklynites having the power to make the important changes in their lives; where big corporations and politicians don’t make the decisions for hem. They are informed and educated to stand for things that aren’t right and fight off the discrimination that will affect them. Hope for Brooklyn basically means living lives they want and choose rather than living a life that is forced on them.

Kareem was born in Brooklyn, NY. He is a first generation American; both his mother and father were born in Jamaica. At a very young age, he and his brother lived with their grandmother in Nine-turns, Jamaica where he attended pre-school. They returned to Brooklyn to live with their mother and younger sister and attended Brooklyn public school. He graduated from Science Technology and Research high school and currently attends Hamilton College to pursue a degree in Public Policy.

Rahilou Diallo worked for Brooklyn Community Services, supporting their art therapy program and community event planning.

This experience has definitely informed my ideas about issues that are important to me. I’ve always had an interest in mental health especially ways in which mental health is dealt with in African American communities. Being an Art Therapy intern with BC Pros (Personalized Recovery Oriented Services) program at Brooklyn Community Services allowed me to learn a bit more about mental health and ways to help adults dealing with mental health.

Rahilou majors in Human Development and minors in Education at Binghamton University. At age six, Rahilou moved to the United States from Guinea Conakry, a small country in the coast of West Africa. She currently holds the position of Educational Coordinator for Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate (P.U.L.S.E.) a Binghamton University student organization dedicated to educating, elevating and empowering women on campus and the Binghamton community. Her goal is to someday create a not-for-profit organization that would build schools in third world countries to ensure that children have an equal opportunity at an education despite their economic status.

Arianna Flores Perez was our first Fellow to be placed at Safe Horizon, where she worked with their Immigration Law Project.

Hope for Brooklyn is about giving the people from Brooklyn the resources necessary to succeed and transfer those resources to our community. These paid internships act as a financial investment to the Brooklyn community. At the end of the day, skills and financial support go back to the community, and it promotes its advancement.

Arianna was born in Tlaxcala, Mexico and moved to the United States when she was nine. In 2012 she received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a temporary relief that has expanded her horizons. In high school, she formed part of th Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC), and work at LHC Family Physician Health Center. As a college student she is in the Mexican Heritage Student Association, and Immigrant Youth Peer Educator Program at Atlas: DIY. As an immigrant herself, she hopes to continue serving her community and advocating for their interests. In her eagerness to achieve this she aspires to double major in Political Science and Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College.

Chenisvel Nunez worked with Brooklyn Defender Services, providing support to indicted and incarcerated youth.

There are many ongoing issues in Brooklyn like social injustice and local political issues. This was Hope’s focus during her career. She was passionate about helping people and making her community a better place for its residents. With this being said, from my perspective, Hope for Brooklyn means focusing and dedicating yourself to an issue and working to overcome it. Not only so that you won’t become a victim of it but also for those who are already a victim won’t have to suffer from it any longer.

For the first years of her life, Chenisvel and her family lived in the Dominican Republic. When she was five years old, they moved to New York City. She has been living in Washington Heights ever since. Currently, she is a college student at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. She is double majoring in Sociology and Criminology because one of her life goals is to work with youth who live in low-income neighborhoods and be able to motivate them to take the right path in their lives.

We wish the 2015 Hope Fund Fellow the best of luck and look forward to seeing what they do!