James Alford is Our Alum of the Month!
Tell us about your Mikva Challenge experience.
My Mikva experience was fun. I really enjoyed it. My AP Government teacher, Mr. Kubey was my Mikva teacher at Kenwood Academy. I believe that he is still a Mikva teacher today. Mikva gave us both the avenue to build great relationships. I participated in a variety of programs including: Issues to Action, Elections in Action, the Summer Government Leadership Institute (now known as Summer Fellows), and the Education Council. Being a part of Mikva was amazing. You always met a lot of people. I still keep in contact with quite a few of them today.
I graduated from Kenwood Academy in 2010. I remember that year at Mikva I had to be extremely disciplined. I was the keynote speaker for the summer fundraiser. Leading up to the event the education council was also preparing for a big decision maker meeting. Between both of those events and all the media events, I had to do a lot of prep. It definitely help mold me and get ready for college.
What are you doing now?
I am currently a Student Support Specialist with the Student Success Program at Saint Xavier University. It is a TRIO program that works with 1st generation, low income, and disabled students. I started my position this past August. I am excited to work with this program because I benefited from TRIO programs as a college student. My office looks to offer these students additional resources in college and offer them opportunities they may not have coming from low income families.
In addition to my role, I have helped in planning Diversity Week, Black History Month, and a Mentoring Program. I am a mentor at my old high school as well. The program is called Kenwood Academy Brotherhood. I had the honor of helping chaperone their college tour this past year. I do a lot of work with my fraternity (Phi Rho Eta). I am the National Service Chair and I advise the Northern Illinois University Chapter. I am becoming a Mentor for Mikva Challenge this summer and I try to volunteer at Mikva events whenever I can. Mikva invested a lot in me and I want to give back.
How has your experience as a Mikva Challenge youth informed who you are today?
Mikva is the reason I chose to major in Political Science in College. In higher education, everything involves politics. Mikva also taught me that you have to learn how to deal with all types of people and cultures. My high school was predominantly Black. Mikva events and programs exposed me to other cultures and experiences.
Mikva also taught me some really great skills. For example, elevator speeches. Just learning how to do elevator speeches helped me to prepare for job interviews, presentations, and answer questions on the spot.
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