The Impact of Think Big for Kids – In Zuri’s Words
Meet Zuri, our first Think Big for Kids mentee in the program at the launch of Think Big in 2016. Zuri has continued her education past high school and started multiple companies of her own. She even made an appearance in our “All About Us” video! We are so proud of her hard work, and we love to follow along on her journey. Hear from Zuri, in her own words, about the impact that Think Big for Kids has had on her life:
In 2015, one handshake changed the course of my life forever. Through an early-stage job readiness program of Think Big For Kids, I was introduced to a few amazing people. We learned to dress for success, network, practiced mock interviews and went through building a strong resume. My first stop of the rounds was to the networking workshop where I met an enthusiastic representative of Think Big For Kids, Joelle.
Joelle spoke so highly about the many opportunities provided by Think Big For Kids and the wonderful leadership in the organization would love to hear from us. That sounded like one crazy opportunity to not pass up. Speaking directly to the CEO of any organization is nerve racking, but the confidence instilled in me from the conversation about how down to earth he was made me feel that I could relate to him even as a 17-year-old student in high school. At the end of that workshop, I made sure to shake her hand.
Zooming through the rest of the workshops I learned so much and felt so inspired and motivated. At the end of the day, I emailed every workshop leader, including the CEO, Tony. In the email I got back from Joelle, I was told out of the almost 100 kids I was the only one that shook her hand and was commended for that. At that moment, I felt like one in a million.
I grew up in a diverse and multicultural household. My mother is Portuguese and from New York, My father is Caribbean, and my sister’s dad, who raised me like his first born, is Caucasian and Irish from Florida. With such a family came a lot of queries, and problems as not everyone gets along.
I experienced a lot of bullying growing up that made me angry and truly affected my social life and my confidence. Even being shy and quiet can lead you to someone’s attention to attack you. I was left with anxiety, and depression. I felt like I had no one to bond with, until I started to attend the Boys & Girls Club.
At the Club I was introduced to leadership programs and mentorship such as Think Big For Kids. Mentorship from people like Tony and Joelle has brought me confidence and a strong hand to stand on when I feel I can turn to no one else. It has helped me realize my value and learn to keep my head up even when I felt I do not belong. Mentorship has shown me that my failures are not the end of the line and that perseverance through the times you fall will always lead to unimaginable places.
Think Big For Kids has taught me that I can follow my dreams of being an entrepreneur and has even supported me and my business ventures personally and financially. Think Big For Kids forgives my mistakes and encourages me to try new things. I feel at ease knowing that my mentors and friends are sticking by my side while I discover what I love and what I do not care for. My education has been supported from the beginning with grants and one of my first scholarships for school which I used to buy a laptop to continue my education after high school. I feel that without the support and family at Think Big For Kids, I would not have stayed on track to graduating with two vocational degrees and continuing my associates degree in public relations.
Currently, I work with American Express as I pursue my passions in business with my apparel company B.A.S.S.A.T., my organization Free Ride to Vote, and my company Beanwork Co. building a Reg CF portal for women owned businesses. Without Think Big For Kids, I would not have been able to get my ducks in a row to continue my education, to pursue my passions, and to make long lasting friendships that support me daily.
Think Big For Kids gave me my first internship, connected me with real professionals in career fields I pursued to land jobs in the fields I am studying, provided me with counseling on the drop of a dime and is always there for me when I need them most. Imagine what Think Big For Kids can do for you.