"There is nothing more important than working with young people and giving them a platform..."

I grew into my role as a tutor and mentor over the course of the semester. I fell in love with being at the school and working with all the students. I felt like I made connections with many of them. And I will not forget any of the experiences I had at Broad Ripple. I feel like my nerves faded away and I gained a lot more self-confidence. I started researching more options for ways to become a teacher or continue my work as a mentor. I even talked with Professor Speckman about potentially working with the Butler Writers program next year at Shortridge HS. I don’t want to stop being a mentor or educator. I found my experience at Broad Ripple to be one of the most rewarding experiences, not because I saw myself as helping students in an urban high school that was closing, but because I felt like I made real, important connections with students. I felt like I was able to help foster these students’ writing lives and connect with them. On the last day we were at Broad Ripple I was overcome with emotions and I didn’t want it to be the last day. I cried when I read the comments students left in my comment-card bag. Many of them just commented on my hair and how much they liked it but there were a few comments that I will probably keep in my wallet until they fall apart.

After this experience, I definitely see high schoolers in a different way. High school wasn’t that long ago for me but I still feel some kind of distance from it. However, I now see high school as a level of education where students are accepted and pushed towards greatness. High schoolers now have a lot going for them and a lot going against them. College is looming, financial uncertainty is always an issue, relationships are ride or die, interactions are good or bad. High schoolers however have much more strength than many believe. The movement spearheaded by the Parkland survivors gives me hope and I saw some of that same activism in some Broad Ripple students. I firmly believe that there is nothing more important than working with young people and giving them a platform to raise their own voices and their own ideas and opinions. There is nothing more important to me than making sure that students and young people have this ability and have the confidence that their voices and their experiences are heard and accepted.

Cecilia Robbins is a senior English major.