DREAM Student Scholar Alumnus Shares Lessons from DREAM 2019

Each year, Achieving the Dream conducts a national competition among students enrolled in ATD Network colleges to participate in a year-long experiential learning program to enhance leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills. Students are nominated by their institution and selected through a competitive national application process. A hallmark of the program is for DREAM Scholars to attend and present at ATD’s annual professional development conference, DREAM. The cohort will participate in the DREAM 2020 conference. Kenneth Glynn, a 2018 DREAM Student Scholar, participated as a mentor to the 2019 DREAM Scholars.

 

What did you learn at DREAM?

One of the many lessons that I took away from being a mentor at DREAM 2019 was the power of networking, the personal form of communication that deepens your self-business connections. I’ve learned to network across different platforms to combine more of a diverse and inclusive perspective to communicating, and having an influential voice towards change, at the same time providing the necessary leadership traits to lead others to be more creative and innovative in their thought processes. Also, DREAM 2019 was a confidence builder for the student scholars of the past, allowing us to display our leadership and critical thinking skills to influence the student voice to accomplish an objective, and direct these voices in ways that makes them collectively more coherent and cohesive. It’s empowering for students to know their voice can have such a positive influence toward change. It’s powerful when their stories are shared by them—the voices of the actual students as they answer the question of why…why is education so important, powerful? It gives them a part in the work to continue for those who fight and advocate for all to have the same playing field within education.

How was this DREAM different from your previous experience?

Well for starters, my role this year was more in the background and to be a facilitator whenever needed to help students shape their role as advocates for this important work of helping all students succeed. This year’s DREAM allowed the former DREAM Scholars to display our growth in important areas such as critical thinking skills, networking skills, and leadership skills. DREAM 2019 became a confidence builder in that it allowed for me to feel the self-assurance of my own abilities and qualities to lead with honesty and integrity and to inspire others to become innovative through their creativity. My first experience with DREAM came during a chance invitation to appear as a panelist at an Achieving the Dream kickoff event that was held in Cleveland, OH, in summer 2018. I remembered how empowered I felt when I came off stage after telling my story and answering some questions. Then I was blessed to be nominated by my college and selected as a DREAM Scholar, after completing a rigorous series of questions to which I answered them all as essays.

What’s your biggest takeaway from this year’s DREAM conference?

The biggest takeaway for me was this: I learned that my dreams— or our dreams—were not meant for me or us, but for others. You see, I never realized how my struggles and my desires of wanting to better myself through education, and my dreams and hopes, would be felt by so many, and how they would inspire others to take the necessary steps in achieving their own dreams. To have your story shared in your own community is one thing that is totally amazing in itself. But, to be on a national stage to tell your story and have it received the same way is beyond my wildest dreams. Finding out how my dream was really meant for others to reach theirs was my biggest takeaway.

How has being an ATD DREAM Scholar affected your education and career?

Wow! Yeah, that’s what I say every day since I’ve been a DREAM Scholar. My life has changed for the better. I have two associate degrees and two one-year certificates.  I have not finished my bachelor’s degree yet and am committed to start back up in the spring of 2020. Becoming a DREAM Scholar has led me to be inspired in advocating for adult learners and students who are at risk. I’ve also become involved in my community as an Adult Outreach Associate for my city’s community college, Lorain County Community College. ATD has given me the vision to inspire others in my community by joining a mentoring program that helps young black adult to combat insecurities within their lives through education and a more holistic way of support with community and public assistance. Furthermore, I have also joined my County Foundation’s African American Community Foundation Board as a new board member. We are responsible for granting funds donated by residents of our County who start their own foundation for non-profits, to use for assistance in education or  programs for the citizens of the county. Becoming a DREAM Scholar has allowed me to inspire others to Dream and Dream Big!

 

 

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