Yvette Pappoe ’13, Sociology, is an intern with the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.
Maryland Business Roundtable for Education is a nonprofit coalition of more than 100 leading employers, 3,000 volunteers, and a staff of eight dedicated to ensuring that Maryland students receive a quality education and are well prepared for productive, successful lives. I first discovered this organization when I was a UMBC student looking to make a difference. Through the Shriver Center, I learned about the Baltimore Collegetown Network’s LeaderShape program, which is designed for students who have a passion for service and want to be civic minded leaders. I applied immediately, and was rewarded with a life-changing, week-long experience with aspiring agents of positive social change from colleges and universities around Baltimore. LeaderShape helped me to identify my specific passion for helping young people in Baltimore overcome barriers to getting the education they need and deserve. One of the community partners I met that week was LaTara Harris, who was then Director of Partnerships and Outreach at Maryland Business Roundtable–an organization I had never known about, but which is located at BWTech North, right on the UMBC campus.
I was elated to find out that this organization shared my vision, and immediately sought ways to get involved. LaTara, who later became my mentor, referred me to one of their programs called the Maryland Scholars Speakers Bureau, which ensures that more students are well prepared to succeed in life and in college by encouraging students to take and master rigorous high school coursework, particularly in math and science. Maryland Business Roundtable provides speakers to help motivate and guide students as they are preparing to select courses for their high school program, and provides incentives that encourage students to stay the course throughout high school. I have been a Speakers Bureau speaker since last year and plan to continue to speak for as long as my schedule allows.
My involvement with this program has been extremely rewarding. It is such an amazing feeling to watch students change their outlook on college, and life, right before my eyes. To hear their minds churning and see their enthusiasm building because of the message I’m delivering is one of my top 5 best feelings ever. Along with being a speaker in the program, I intern with Maryland Business Roundtable and assist the Program Director for the Speakers Bureau. I have the pleasure of seeing how this program works both out in the field and behind the scenes. I am tasked with several projects ranging from program development to outreach and technical assistance.
My biggest project so far has been to develop a strategy to recruit and engage college students, specifically UMBC students, for our Speakers Bureau. Although I have made some progress, I have not quite reached my goal. This is where you come in. I believe it is our responsibility as members of the community to be directly involved in shaping the lives of our next generation. This opportunity is one way to do that. Tell a friend, a mentor, a family member. Share this article, do some research, get involved.
Working at MBRT has energized me to push forward toward my goal of creating spaces where students can receive quality education despite challenging circumstances. I plan to open a school, and eventually several schools, in inner cities as well as back home in Ghana, where I can help kids cultivate a passion for learning and a drive to succeed no matter what obstacles they face.
Contact the author, Yvette Pappoe, at email@example.com.