Summer with I Have a Dream Foundation-Los Angeles

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Cathy Hanh Tran, COL ’19

During the summer of 2018 I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with the I Have a Dream Foundation-Los Angeles (IHAD-LA). I Have a Dream Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves youth from low-income communities as early as kindergarten and works with these children until college. Through first-hand experience, I saw how this long-term commitment to their students unfolds.

Over the first 3.5 weeks of the internship, I worked directly with one of their LA student cohorts. These children were entering the freshman year of high school. The organization planned a summer program for the children designed to help them with their transition into high school. I occasionally had the pleasure of tutoring the children in math, and throughout this program I lead an arts and crafts class which helped me get to know the students and their interests and talk to them about how college relates to it. It was my greatest joy being able to connect two students to current college students at universities that they were interested in applying to.

As the weeks went by, the commitment that the program coordinators have for each child to provide well-rounded services became even more apparent to me. Program coordinators scheduled home visits with the students’ parents to assess the needs of the children and their families. After these visits, I researched resources (e.g. free food pantries, housing shelters) that we could direct families to. During this time, I also drafted a curriculum for the students’ ninth grade program. The core components touched upon: academic, college/career, socio-emotional development, and health and wellness. Based on my experiences with the students, I analyzed their needs and incorporated what the parents expressed as their child’s needs.

One of my favorite memories of the internship was during the organization’s end-of-the-year party where all the LA student cohorts came together to enjoy great food, music, and activities. This was where I met an inspiring program coordinator who was celebrating the high school graduation of the cohort she had been working with since they were in first-grade. She is now preparing to start the cycle again with a new first-grade cohort. As I watched the high school graduates come up to her with joy, I could tell that their relationship was more than a mentorship. For me this reinforced the importance of investing in children and creating programs that offer them opportunities.

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