Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
As a 12th grade student, Kyare is working on college essays. He chose to write on the prompt above, found in The Common Application. It was wonderful to hear Kyare talk about his Reach experience as something so transformational. We’re incredibly proud of him. We hope you enjoy his words:
“When Sal and Ernie went back to their favorite pond, they did the things they did when they were younger. They felt relieved to have a normal day.”
The young African-American author from DC sat down with his recently published book, The Gloomy Light, in front of a group children. As he read, he showed them the pictures that brought his words to life and watched as the children listened eagerly to his funny voices: “The button lies within the statue that flies,” said the Old Wise Monkey in an ancient, raspy voice. As the author finished reading, he introduced himself to the crowd. That author was me. It was a children’s book, but writing it helped me to become an adult.
As a child, I only thought about my friends, my family, and myself. I did not have any responsibilities in the world. I did not realize that my actions could have consequences. As a child, I was not aware that my blackness could influence my life in such a serious way. It was teachers and mentors that taught me that I would need to work harder to avoid the life outcomes experienced by so many black men. And, in the process, I could become a role model.
The most significant factor in my transition from childhood to young adulthood was my participation in a program called Reach Incorporated. Reach is a program through which high school students become elementary school reading tutors. The program helps both the tutor and the student grow. Tutors learn how to be leaders while students learn the basics of reading fluency and comprehension.
Reach tutors can earn promotions based on good work. Both in school and in the program, I showed leadership and dedication to the kids. I also focused on doing the best I could in my classes. Because of my hard work, I was promoted to Lead Tutor and then Junior Staff. Junior Staff is the highest honor Reach gives – only seven people in the entire city ever earned the honor. Earning those promotions taught me the importance of working hard, remaining committed, and doing your best to support others.
As teen tutors, we did not see a lot of diversity in children’s books. We wanted to create new books our students could relate to. In the last two years, I have become a published author of two children’s books, The Gloomy Light and Khalil’s Swagtown Adventure (both available on Amazon). I also had the chance to read my books to groups of elementary school students. After one reading, a young boy came up to me and asked, “Can I make a book too?” I told him, “of course!” In that moment, I realized I had become a role model to the next generation of young people in my community.
During Reach’s summer program, we had the chance to participate in a philanthropy project. Reach gave us $3,000, and we had to give it away. Through this process, we got the chance to learn about other issues in the community. In each of the last two summers, I have learned about organizations that address the issue of youth incarceration. As a child, I did not really think about this issue. But now, I ardently support those helping teens that did not have the same level of support I did.
As an adult, you are responsible for being a leader and role model for people younger than you. You have the opportunity to influence others to achieve more than they thought possible. In Reach, I learned how to be my best self, become a role model, give back to my community, and help others do better for themselves. As I go to college, I know that I will continue to improve myself and my community.
When I entered high school, I was satisfied being average. Through participating in Reach, I learned to become responsible and to challenge myself. My GPA has improved each year, and I now take IB and AP classes – in 11th grade, I was even the IB Student of the Year! Reach showed me what I could be. When I am in college, I hope to come back to see the students I once tutored. I want them to see me as a leader and a role model. By seeing me – now a responsible adult – I want them to see what they can be.