My experience with all of you has been nothing less than inspirational. I remember the first day I stepped into the Maryland office and was interviewed by a large panel of youth. They asked me questions about what I liked to do and tough questions about the job. I tried to put on my confident voice and smile, but little did they know I was truly scared and nervous!
That was four years ago.
With every year came a new twist and turn…a new tear and a new smile. Each year we learned how to say goodbye to staff and students, we learned how to welcome and love, and now it’s my turn.
If you have ever worked with AALEAD as a Coordinator or graduated from AALEAD Programs as a student, you must know that leaving this organization is not very easy. There’s something about AALEAD that makes you feel:
empowered, passionate, fulfilled, and loved.
When you leave as a student, you remember all of the good times you had with AALEAD and the relationships you built with Coordinators. As a staff member leaving, I’m at a loss for words to honestly express how blessed and grateful I am to have been a part of the AALEAD journey.
From staying with youth through the most troubling of times to working with staff to address data and program design, each moment with AALEAD holds a special place in my heart and has motivated me in ways I never thought possible. In a world with so much negativity, war, and brokenness it almost feels natural to follow the world’s negative ways; but the minute I stepped into work or the classroom with students, these people helped the world shine a little brighter.
After reading so many encouraging notes and sharing heartfelt goodbyes with my students, I’ve learned that our youth are able to cry without feeling weak, are able to dream without feeling discouraged, and are able realize that they can be in control of their futures. There is no other greater feeling than to understand that they are prepared for this moment, and that they are ready to do their part in helping to carry on the AALEAD legacy that we have created together.
For Staff, we’ve been through the trenches together; laughed and cried. It has been such an honor working alongside all of you. Each of you brings something so unique and special to AALEAD and it always starts with the staff. While I will miss working with you every day, I know that AALEAD will continue to grow and do great things…and I can’t be too sad about that! Thank you AALEAD for helping me become the leader that I am today and for having me be a part of your family.