Hometown: Versailles, KY
Minor: Studio Art
Agency: Life Pieces to Masterpieces, Washington, D.C.
What did you enjoy most about the internship?
The element that I enjoyed most about my internship was the building and then strengthening of relationships. I was fortunate enough to work with an amazing range of people, both young and old, as well as live with three extraordinary women. Not only did these relationships greatly "make" my summer experience, I am also confident that they will continue to have positive impacts on my future.
What was the greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge that I faced this summer was behavior management with the young apprentices at LPTM. I entered this internship, one composed of daily interaction and instruction of young men ages two to six, with little background as a disciplinarian. I soon found that my lack of experience did little to guide and teach the young men and was quick to find my inner martinet.
What was the greatest lesson you learned through your experience?
The greatest lesson that I learned is the importance of communication. Whether it is with co-workers, apprentices, trailer-mates, or the nice man giving directions, I found that good communication is key in being successful.
How might the internship affect your career path?
My internship gave me a positive push in the direction that I had already perceived myself heading in the future. I found that deep and true convictions about the importance of education and youth development for underprivileged children can and do thrive in the working world. I also reaffirmed my notion that a Masters in Business would be a beneficial component to achieving a career in this field.
Thanks to the Shepherd Poverty Alliance, this summer I was fortunate enough to spend eight weeks interning with Life Pieces to Masterpieces in Washington, D.C. Life Pieces to Masterpieces (LPTM) is a grassroots youth development organization that will be celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this fall. LPTM serves African American males ages two to twenty-five that live in the substandard housing of D.C.'s 7th and 8th wards. Life Pieces uses their own unique four-part human development system called the LPTM Basics to equip their apprentices with the necessary tools to handle the challenges that African American males face in D.C. today. As an educational mentor, my role was not only to do my best to make sure that the young gentlemen exhibited the LPTM principles on a day-to-day basis, but also to personify those principles in my own actions. As a testament to the LPTM principles and nurturing environment that the LPTM family has created, with each day that passed I saw my own "self" developing into a stronger person.
My days and development would start bright and early. Each day I would roll out of bed at 5:30 and before my feet hit the ground I would be tinged with excitement about what that day had in store: smiling faces and sweet hugs in combination with spilled milk, temper tantrums, wet pants, and time-outs. During the two and a half hours between my wake-me-up workout and scooting out the door to meet my ride, this excitement would have multiplied--and the challenges of the day ahead demanded it. It takes a significant amount of gearing-up to both give and get all you can out of the course of a wild and crazy day in LPTM's room of youngest apprentices, the Warrior's Treehouse. Yet it was clear after day one that the combination of challenges and kindness could not have been more personally rewarding. I knew that each day would present the opportunity to indulge in both.
Every morning Mo, in the white Chevy "Mo-mobile" van, would pick me up approximately fifteen minutes late--providing the perfect opportunity to sip my coffee and soak up my vitamin D for the day in the D.C. morning heat. Mo, one of the original seven apprentices of Life Pieces to Masterpieces, when the organization was merely a vision in Ms. Mary Brown's dreams, now serves as one of its head staff members. Our morning drives would consist of a little moanin' and groanin', a little gossiping, and little laughing at a lot of inappropriate radio conversation--that is, before we picked up the little ones and put on our grown-up hats. At our first stop, my preparation for the day ahead would be completed at the sight of three smiling faces. In this particular building complex, we would pick up three brothers, aged two to six. This qualified all of three to be apprentices in the Treehouse and meant that I was lucky enough to spend the entire day with all of them. As soon as the van was in sight, the boys would begin smiling, waving and running toward us. "Jood Mauning Sistaa Dowy," they would say nearly in unison as I rolled down the window to greet them. One buzz, one mohawk, and one ponytail would climb into the van chatting away with a contagious excitement that would fill my tank.
After collecting a few more apprentices, Mo would drop us off at the old Morris Middle School, the building that LPTM currently inhabits. Holes in the ceilings, temperamental air conditioning and undrinkable water is not enough to scare this group away. Instead it serves as a perfect place for the apprentices to learn how to be stronger than the reality of the crumbling foundations around them in their everyday lives. And so the day would begin and fly, and before I knew it the good morning hugs would be goodbye hugs. Breakfast and lunch would have been served and cleaned up, countless trips to the bathroom would have been taken, time-outs would have been enforced, books would have been read, naptime would have (sort of) commenced, and on my thirty minute Metro ride home I would finally be able to reflect, in a calm I had not experienced for the past eight hours, on what exactly happened in that time--what I had learned, and hopefully, maybe, what I had taught someone else.
I began my summer internship with the excitement of knowing that Life Pieces to Masterpieces was the kind of organization I could find myself working for in the future. Before the start of my eight weeks, this summer internship seemed like an opportunity for me to see just how the hypothetical organization of my dreams might form itself in the real world. Although the research I found on LPTM and the reviews that I heard from people more familiar with the organization seemed overwhelmingly impressive and positive, I still began my summer with a degree of uncertainty and uneasiness. After day one, and still after week eight, I cannot describe how incredibly and pleasantly surprised I was. The reality is that Life Pieces to Masterpieces runs so much deeper than what words and pictures can express on a website or in a newsletter. It is the daily actions of love, guidance and conviction that I was fortunate enough to experience for eight weeks that makes LPTM the amazing and effective place that it is.