I am extremely fortunate to have had so many amazing mentors and professors. Ms. Sooy taught me how to see, Ms. Morris taught me how to write, and Daniel Joseph Martinez taught me how to think beyond everything I thought I knew. One thing I know for certain is that learning by example and being challenged by mentors I connected with taught me to value my education and my work.
For about a year I've been volunteering as a photographer for a non-profit called Girls Write Now, a creative writing program that pairs over 60 professional writers with girls in high school, most of them at-risk from New York City's under-funded public high schools. In a city where only 21% of high school seniors are deemed "prepared for college", 100% of GWN's girls are both college-ready and college-bound. With writing portfolios, awards, and scholarships, this fall they head to schools like Brown, Johns Hopkins and Duke.
Mentees from Girls Write Now were recently invited to the White House on the invitation of Michelle Obama and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to attend a day-long celebration of American poetry and prose. (Info from the GWN website and newsletters)
I got involved with Girls Write Now through Volunteer Match, which is extremely informative and easy to use. I was on the site for about 5 minutes before I found GWN, which happened to be the ideal match. I highly recommend checking it out.
You can support Girls Write Now by purchasing the 2011 anthology, "Opening Lines" (my photos are in the back!), or by donating directly. Fundraising is a tremendous amount of work. Support organizations that work towards social change! :) Big virtual high-five to anyone who volunteers, mentors, or teaches. You're awesome.