A Summer at Home with SBU

6 months ago I applied for South Bronx United, hoping to make an impact on the students I would come across. Born and raised in the Bronx, I knew this would be an opportunity to explore every part of my home. I understood that jumping into this program would give me a better understanding of many of the students here in New York City, especially in the Bronx. Through tutoring, I was ecstatic to see the growth and enthusiasm that many students had toward learning.

Being silly with Kevin right before our field trip to Coney Island

My name is Joelle Berbano, a rising senior at Hunter College, majoring in Mathematics. Through SBU, I hoped that my involvement would give me the opportunity to not only impact students, but also submerge myself in the career path I hope to follow. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see the impact each and every student had in my own personal growth and experience throughout the summer.

Although I knew several students prior to the Summer Soccer Scholars program, I found myself extremely nervous on the first day of the program. The transition from tutoring to teaching an actual course with lesson plans was intimidating and scary. However, all fears were overcome with the support of the other interns and as I began to meet my mentees and students for SAT Prep. Their welcoming attitudes and optimism in the classroom setting put me at ease. I was blessed with the opportunity to have students and mentees who were very appreciative of the amount of time and energy I put into listening to each of them.

Joan with Marvin the Martian

I further realized my impact as a teacher and mentor outside in the soccer field and on field trips. I would crack a smile whenever I overheard my students using vocabulary words taught in class such as “frugal” to jokingly call their friends cheap or use mathematical terms like “complementary” in relation to the position they would play on the field. I found myself overjoyed when one of my mentees, Giselle, told me she believed I was “real” and that she appreciated that I can relate to her. These little aspects made me realize that as a teacher and mentor, I had the opportunity to impact certain students.

I realize now that many of these students have helped me in their own way. My experience with each student furthers my interest in becoming a teacher and affirms my yearning to work here in the Bronx. While the Bronx is a difficult environment to grow up in, many of these students have inspired me with their thirst for success in school and on the field.

Group photo with the kids and interns

SBU is a program I will not leave behind. I look forward to seeing every single one of
these students growing and learning through their years with great success.

I am blessed and grateful to Andrew, Carlos, and Jamaal for giving me a rewarding opportunity to be a part of a program dedicated to such amazing students.

Best of luck, SBU!

– Joelle Berbano

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