By Yamilet Rivera, Grade 9, Kensington Urban Education Academy
Note: Yamilet and her team at KUEA won The School Fund’s Case Competition in Philadelphia. She writes here about what the experience meant to her.
Two months ago in February 2012, my World History teacher, Ms. Halligan, asked me and my friends to join a team to compete in The School Fund’s UPenn Case competition. The goal of our project was to help students in Tanzania. I was so excited. We met up everyday during lunch and after school. We did our research on the TSF website because we knew that if we wanted good research and real information, we should try and get it directly from the students in Tanzanian. We really enjoyed learning about their opinions and their needs. I was so happy and grateful to be in that group because I knew it was a great opportunity for me. Also, UPenn is one of my favorite colleges and I would like to go there one day.
When the day to present our project arrived, we were all so excited. My team and I met up in front of our school and then caught the el train together. On our way to UPenn, we were practicing each of our parts. I was so nerves because I’m really shy, but my teacher and team helped me get over my shyness by giving me good advice. Once we got to West Philly, we ate lunch at UPenn’s Houston Hall, the oldest student union in the country! The food was so good. Then we headed to the business school in Huntsman Hall where the competition took place. We got there a little early so we sat down and talked to our team coach, Salma Zeb. After preparing one last time, we went into the conference room and our competition started! Every team there had really great ideas. When it was our turn, I was really scared, but I still spoke up because I knew that the kids in Tanzania needed our help and I had to deliver our plan.
After everyone finished explaining their proposals, the judges took some time to think about all of our plans. I was really nervous because I didn’t know how we did since every team there had really good ideas. I wanted our team to win, but at the same time I just wanted to have fun and support students that really needed our help. After the judges finished talking among each other, they announced the winners. Our team ended up winning first place! And we were the youngest team there. We were all very happy; I couldn’t believe it. Now I can’t wait to go back every year and help more students with my ideas.
Since the competition, my team has put our plan into action by starting a School Fund group at our school, Kensington Urban Education Academy. We had a Skype call with a new TSF coach, Christi Zaleski, and we started putting our proposal into action.
Right before our spring break, our club held a dress down day where all students donated a dollar in honor of the students in Tanzania. We raised over $100 and with this money we sent a Tanzanian student, Judica Medo, to school for the year through the TSF site! I can’t wait to write to Judica and get to know her. I’m so proud of our group and all of the things we have accomplished.