23 Mar Black College Success and the Power of Mentorship
Imagine a rose fighting its way to be seen and growing out of concrete— this is how Black College Success (BCS) fellow Kamarie Brown paints herself as a student from South Los Angeles’ education system. She has always had a drive for wanting better for herself and has taken on a mission to call for education equity for all.
Brown’s platform on education was inspired by her South Los Angeles upbringing, and her participation in BCS programs. Brown’s dream includes creating workshops on wellness, academic support, and political science amongst other various ideas for what she considers underfunded and overlooked schools in areas like South Los Angeles.
“I am trying to get across the point that zip code shouldn’t determine what school you go to and how well your school is performing. This means being able to implement more equitable funding, create support for students, parents, and take a bold step in creating alternatives to safety in our schools and communities. This means building solidarity and deep and intentional organizing. The same kind of organizing that young people have led, and continue to lead now,” said Brown.
Brown, a 2021 Valedictorian of Crenshaw High School, was BCS’ kickoff speaker in the same year. Brown shared that academics and a support system, such as BCS, can have a huge impact on a student. Brown now attends Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college in Atlanta, Georgia, and Brown’s ideas on education equity became so impactful, that she was recently selected as a Change Leader for McDonald’s “Black and Positively Golden” challenge– all of these achievements that could not have been accomplished without Brown’s initiative and her BCS academic advisor, Nina Torres.
“I not only see her as my advisor but a lifelong mentor who has literally never forgotten about me whenever an opportunity comes around. When she told me she had my back and would support my dreams and aspirations, she stood by that and has never let me down,” said Brown.
Torres shared that she is extremely proud of the student she has mentored for the past seven years, since Brown was 15 years old.
“I remember the day I first met her and will never forget that moment. She introduced herself and said, ‘I am The Kamarie Brown.’ From that moment, I knew she was a leader and, most importantly, the future,” said Torres.
BCS, a project of LA Promise Fund (LAPF), assigns advisors to students that guide their academic journey from seniors in high school through college—a need that many students of color face once they reach higher education.
“…projects like BCS through LAPF are beyond important and essential for youth and education. These projects are not just false hope. They are supplying students with the necessary tools and resources to actually thrive,” said Brown.
As an academic advisor with BCS, Torres ensures that students have access to information and support throughout their academic journey. This includes career exposure, such as summer internships. BCS also provides mental health resources, scholarship opportunities, financial literacy, resume building, mock interviews and academic advice.
“We check in with students and provide resources weekly. I believe Black College Success has strongly impacted Kamarie’s college journey because it has provided her with a higher education community, career exposure, and mentorship,” said Torres.
Brown will be given an official platform via the McDonald’s challenge where she can share her goals, concepts, and plans. Brown starts this month and she will be sharing her experiences and ideas with the world over this year.
“I feel Honored. Humbled. And Wholesome. I am surrounded by other young Black folks who are doing the work, creating platforms, being heard, and not scared to frontline work that the world is scared to prioritize and talk about,” said Brown.
The other young black students Brown is referring to are the ten challenge leaders including herself who were selected from a pool of Historically Black College and University students in the nation.
FOLLOW BROWN AND BCS!
Brown will continue to share her ideas over this next year through McDonald’s platform challenge (check out the commercial Brown was featured in here). Brown invites BCS, LAPF and others inspired by her story to be her cheerleader and lend support.
To follow Brown on her adventures, visit @wearegolden. Also, stay tuned for continuous updates on Brown and her vision here at our LAPF website. To learn more about BCS and implementing this program in your school, visit blackcollegesuccess.org and follow @_blackcollegesuccess.