By Jessica Wall
Last month I wrote an article about a topic that’s dear to my heart: the masters degree in Cultural Sustainability (MACS) program offered through Goucher College in Baltimore, MD (which I completed in 2013). You can read it here. This month I wanted to focus on not only the program which has put me in touch with some amazingly brilliant and talented people, but another good friend of mine that has taken the fundamentals we learned and applied them in her own community. As I previously mentioned, in all of my travels and experiences I have never met so many people who share such a rich passion for preserving the cultures around the world that are important to them, and who are so dedicated to making the world a more beautiful and enriching place. I am incredibly inspired and humbled by their work, and I believe that HaveHeart is a wonderful vehicle in which to share it with others. The friend that I interviewed this time is Candace Chance, who is a 25 year old woman living in Baltimore, MD (she is originally from Guyana, South America). Growing up in an urban setting, she has often felt like the potential of young people goes to waste within Baltimore City. Citing how easy and common it is for young people there to get sucked into the daily grind of life without actualizing their full potential, she always knew she wanted to somehow be part of the solution while utilizing the skills she has gained through her formal education and training. Candace’s calling came to her after attending an event which said “your passion is usually derived from your pain.” These words spoke to her, as she was able to identify her own pain of watching the youth of the inner city fall into a rut that often they could not escape. As a solution, she created an organization called Be BOLD (Bringing Out Leaders from Dreamers) which uses science fundamentals as a way of helping youth actualize their full potential. Having received her bachelors degree in biology, she wanted to share her passion for the sciences in a way that would be engaging for the young people she would mentor. When I asked her about who exactly the program is geared for (who her target audience is), she told me that she is working with the inner city youth because that is the community she is most familiar with. She explained that Be BOLD however can be used in any context, as all you need is a passionate facilitator and young people who are willing to be coached through a process that will positively transform their lives. Currently Be BOLD is partnering with Walter P. Carter Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore City to provide programming for their middle school girls (there are currently 9 girls enrolled, although they can provide programming for practically all grades, male and female). This is a Title 1 school, meaning many of the students receive free or reduced lunch because they come from low-income families. One of Be BOLD’s most recent projects involves partnering with a software engineer from AOL Advertising.com to help mentor the girls through the global Technovation Challenge for 2014, in addition to working on character building, entrepreneurship, social activism, and civic engagement (both in conjunction with this challenge and outside of it). When I asked her what she hopes to accomplish through Be BOLD, she responded: “There are so many layers to Be BOLD that are explicit and implicit. To sum them up I would say, I aim to see young people come out of this experience with a transformative way of thinking about themselves and the world around them, using skills to impact positive change. Be BOLD transforms what it generally means to be a leader and what people see when they think of the term. Everyone is different, and not everyone has the desire to be in the forefront or to be the most vocal, so I take them through a process that develops leadership according to their own style.” Inspired by what she is doing, I then talked to her about what she feels is the most satisfying part of this work-as well as what she feels her greatest contribution to her community is through this work. She responded by saying: “Ahhhh sooo many moments of satisfaction: that moment when the girls get it. It’s like a light comes on and they recognize something about themselves that they didn’t know before. Or, when I help them through very difficult moments of confrontation whether it is internally or externally… These young women are learning coping techniques, skills in communication and interaction that most adults struggle with. Therefore, they go back to their families and communities with transformative ways of being a fully engaged and present person; this ends up being positively contagious.” This is incredible to me, as I have (even as an adult) often struggled with articulating myself clearly in times of stress or frustration/confrontation. I feel that these are skills that we need to build up in our children, as they will ultimately benefit from not only understanding themselves better- but also how they can most effectively deal with others. The idea of better preparing our young leaders for the world ahead of them is powerful, as they will (before we know it) inevitably be the driving force behind everything we know and experience in our own lives.
Interested in her short and long term goals (both through Be BOLD and her own personal goals), she explained to me that “My goals are neither long nor short term but rather ongoing. I aim to be a woman that empowers those around me in action, word, and in spirit. This gives me the freedom to exist in the world not according to a position or title, but according to my calling.” To me, this is what HaveHeart is truly about- a representation of women who are passionate, gifted, and who feel empowered to make real change in this world. I could not ask for a better person to interview for this magazine. There is no doubt that working with youth can be challenging, as they often feel forgotten or misunderstood. It is easy to assume that they will ultimately find their own way, without pushing them to succeed in ways they do not think they are capable of. This sentiment can be true anywhere, but it is especially prevalent in an urban setting where youth (and their families) may not have resources available to them that others might. We often talk about how minorities and low income families struggle within the inner cities of America, but sadly the cycle continues despite some of our best efforts to combat it. Candace is an amazing inspiration as she is utilizing her own technical knowledge and expertise-in conjunction with her passion-to help others rise above stereotypes. If you are interested in volunteering, interning, partnering, funding or just want to know more about Candace’s story and Be BOLD (challenges, successes, etc.) please feel free to email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.