Experiences are highlighted moments in life that impacted you in a certain way. The following quotes are the experiences of UAT3 fellows (2017-2018) starting their journey in UAT4 (2016-2017) as mentors. Each tells their story reminiscing on what it felt like to be part of the fellowship. Link to the full blogs can be found in our bio! 🍃
Meet our 5th and last house of this year’s cohort, the House of Hawking💫 Senior Stefano Pastrana named his house after Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned theoretical physicist and author. As he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) at the age of 21, Hawking was only given two years to live. This spurred him to action as he feared that he would leave this world without making a difference, so he earned his PhD and went on to become one of the biggest influencers of our modern view of the universe. Even as he lost physical control over his body, Hawking continued to relentlessly search for the answers to his questions. In the same way, Stefano wants to encourage his fellows - as well as all members of the fellowship - to think critically about the world around them and to never take common assumptions at face value. With these critical thinking skills, the House of Hawking will be relentless in its pursuit of both knowledge and justice. (Stephen Hawking passed away this past March, surviving more than 50 years longer than doctors had anticipated.)
Presenting the House of Lee! Senior Rachel Rios first discovered Hyeonseo Lee back in 2013 when she dawdled across the internet in search of more information about the fascinating, isolated hermit country, North Korea. Rachel began to investigate the dire yet overlooked refugee crisis and soon learned about the atrocities and injustices taking place there. She found amazing and heroic stories of escape from survivors such as Joseph Lee and Yenomi Park. One particular Ted talk given by novelist and activist, Hyeonseo Lee, was one of the most impactful and life changing stories she had ever heard. Horrific details of concentration camps, public executions, and food shortages opened her eyes and gave her a new perspective towards the world she was living in. Before, she had felt so disassociated with the devastation happening worlds away, but now she had felt a responsibility and obligation to provided aid to this crisis in any way she could. Rachel could no longer turn a blind eye to the injustices occurring all around the world. Her passion and devotion to activism came from hearing and reading the stories of the very few lucky people, like Hyeonseo Lee, who were able to get out alive, and seek a better life. #refugeeswelcome
Meet the House of Campos✨Senior Katy Cook decided to name her house after Ricardo Campos, an immigrant rights activist and East Coast Regional organizer for United We Dream, the nations largest youth-led immigrant network. Ricardo “Ricky” Campos came to the United States with his family when he was only 12 years old, all of them destined to find a better life with better opportunities. At age 18, Ricardo was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his hips and was given months to live. Because him and his family were undocumented, there was not a single health insurance company that wanted to ensure him in order for him to get the surgery he needed to be cured from cancer. If it weren’t for the kindness and generosity of his doctor, Ricardo and his family would have never been able to find an insurance company and he would have never been able to say that he beat cancer. After this life changing experience, he realized that he had been given a second chance to do something about the injustices in the world around him. He knew that being undocumented was a challenge and even though all of the odds were and still are stacked against him, it is his job to change the game and beat the odds.
Katy understands that Ricardo is not the most well known organizer or activist out there — you surely can’t find tons of articles or videos about him online. But she chose him to represent her house name precisely for this reason. She wants to show her fellows, as well as all other fellows in UAT, that you don’t need to be famous or have a large following to make impactful social change. All you need is some fiery passion and maybe a few friends to help you out along the way. Katy hopes to mirror Ricardo’s courage, perseverance, and strength in order to inspire her fellows to go out into the world and make their voices heard, even when all others may be silent. She hopes that Ricardo’s story and ongoing work will motivate her fellows to break down the barriers that the world may put up for them and build bridges in place of the walls that are meant to keep out the voices that need to be heard.
Meet our second house: the House of Dumezweni!🌻 Each year, mentors have the privilege of naming their house after someone that inspires them to create social change and awareness. Senior Julian Suarez named his house after Noma Dumezweni — a refugee from South Africa, who became famous on the West End for her roles in different shows like A Raisin in the Sun. Most recently, she was cast as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play. Her role was controversial due to the fact that this was the first canonical portrayal of this character as a black woman. Dumezweni is an activist for movements such as #BlackLivesMatter #guncontrol, #MeToo, and #immigrationreform. Julian hopes to mirror Dumezweni’s optimistic language to spread hope, spark ambition and encourage his fellows. This passion will guide them through the year, and will inspire them to take a participatory role in their activism. He hopes that through her story, fellows can realize that activism can come from anyone, so long as one has a fight to give.
Introducing our first house of the 2018-2019 cohort, House of Riordan!🌿 Mentor and senior Sameer Sridhar was inspired by critically-acclaimed author, Rick Riordan. His house strives to model familial values, as well as cultivate ideals to propagate positive change in society. Riordan stands for justice for the lgbt community, breaking down cultural appropriation, and spreading awareness about mental health, as well as many other social issues. Sameer wishes to encourage his fellows to leave no stone unturned in their journey to uncover the truth and construct their own opinions about the world around them. He also wishes to instill in his fellows the ideal that they can move mountains with their voice and actions, as even one voice can be heard if it is loud enough; their actions can be as strong as their words, as they can effectively be used in propagating positive social change. All in all, he hopes to aid his fellows in trusting themselves and their beliefs as they fight against injustices in society.
Only 1 day left to apply- applications for this year’s fellowship are due Wednesday August 22 at 11:59 p.m ⏰ Eligibility requirements and application can be found on our website- link in bio🍃
🌿Only 2 weeks left to apply to the Under a Tree fellowship for the 2018-2019 school year! Incoming high school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply. Link to the application can be found in our bio.
Please join us tomorrow for our annual Under a Tree Commencement Ceremony. Doors will open at 5:30, and the event will start promptly at 6 PM!
Meet Nadia Starks, UAT’18 Fellow from the House of Shahidi. She will be attending the University of Central Florida! ✨✨
“Before Under a Tree I was always the person who listened to others and never really had a voice, but since being in here I have learned to open up a little more and it has helped my relationship with my family become stronger. Being in the House of Shahidi has given me the opportunity to get to know people that I used to walk past everyday, and now, we have become family. Whenever something was going on with any of us, you knew that someone had your back or you had someone to talk to, and being in this type of world, it’s so important to know someone is there for you in hard times. I hope to join a group that shines light to societal issues, because I believe that so many of us have the ability to change the world, and I will not let my activism stop after my time with UAT ends.”