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Excerpted from a speech by Mia Griffith, NYC Outward Bound Schools alum and student at City Tech

Good Morning, my name is Mia Griffith. I am alumni of Brooklyn Collaborative, a NYC Outward Bound School in Brooklyn, and I graduated in 2017.

Going into high school I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated. I knew that I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t know what college I wanted to go to. My senior year college process was a struggle for me because I was never really sure about anything. What I did was just apply to any school, because I never had a school that I really wanted to go to. Except for one.

Unfortunately, I was denied by that school, but the bright side is that I was accepted by City Tech, and my best friend went there. One day after my 10am class, my best friend told me about a program that she joined called College Crew. She told me about the benefits of being in the program and immediately I was intrigued. I asked her if and how I could join and she lead me to [Brooklyn Collaborative’s] internship coordinator, who led me to Julia Forman, who is the Alumni Manager at NYC Outward Bound Schools, and we set up a meeting.

When meeting with Julia for the first time, she was very welcoming, we got to know each other a little bit, talked about the program, and some of the things that we would be doing over the year. One of the things she said we would be doing was an overnight camping trip. Now that was my absolute favorite part of being in College Crew. At the camping trip, the first thing we did was introduce ourselves, grab some gear, and play a warm up game so that we could actually stay warm (because it was cold), and get comfortable with each other.

A few of my favorite activities from the camping trip was when we had to set a goal to a specific area and we had to scream and run until we couldn’t scream anymore. And also when we had to climb up the three connected hanging logs with steel sticks nailed into the sides, while strapped onto a harness and a rope. When doing the screaming and running activity, I was able to surpass my goal. It was one of my favorites because it showed us how far we can get when we push ourselves to do more than we think we can. It taught me that we are all able to do more than our minds tell us we can, and persistence is always the key.

The second activity with the connected hanging logs confirmed that lesson for me because the first time climbing up, I gave up by the second log. Imagine, climbing through the tree tops on three logs connected simply by a linked chain. I said to myself that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even want to try again, but Julia came to me and said, “Hey, we can do it together.” With her saying that, I felt more encouraged to do it again, so as we started, we climbed and we climbed.

Finally we made it to the second log, I looked down and I started crying. “I don’t want to go anymore” I said with with tears rolling down my cheeks. I took a moment to pause, while still holding on to the log, and Julia said, “Hey, you can do this,” she encouraged me to take as long as I needed, and then start again when I’m ready. So, I did that. When I was ready, we both started again, and then we got to the third log. I started crying again, and luckily I had Julia right next to me to calm me down and encourage me. The third time resumed, I decided to keep my eyes off the ground and on my goal, and finally, I was able to achieve it. In the air, I reached out to Julia and gave her a hug with the tears in my eyes and I thanked her because I probably wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for her being there.

In college crew, we built that connection where we are able to be there for each other and encourage and push one another to move on to our next steps. So, I am here to tell you that you can reach your goals. I made it to the top log way up in the trees, and I made it with help. I now challenge you to find the help that you need as you take your next steps. Because of the help I received and the push from Julia in College Crew, I surpassed my goal like I did with the running activity. As I mentioned before, I didn’t get into my first choice school, but it all worked out, and I am proud to say that I’m headed to my first choice school and [I’m going] one year early. I am transferring early to SUNY Albany.

Not only did I reach the top log physically, I also reached it academically, thanks to help. So, go out there and get the support that you need. For me, it was College Crew.

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