Give Back scholar Athena Arnau is a junior at East Side Community High School in New York City. She entered Give Something Back through City Rocks, a mentorship organization that facilitates support systems for teenagers through outdoor education. Athena is also the first-place winner of our Express Your Art Challenge. Her work, Universum, demonstrated outstanding levels of critical thinking, creativity, and maturity by utilizing two art forms to display her interpretation of the complexity of our universe. Join us as we shadow Athena at school.
Give Back requires its scholars to take high school classes that prepare them for college. As a result, Athena’s Thursdays are comprised of advisory periods to study, lectures and coursework for six classes. Athena is joined by fellow Give Back Scholar Adam Scharfglass for their Algebra class. Today, the scholars are finding the axis of symmetry of a parabola.
Athena hopes to major in Psychology and this year she is taking a Psychology elective at East Side. As we walk toward her classroom, Athena notes that the elective is her favorite class. Her engagement and seriousness is clear. When her teacher challenges the class to ponder why teens use social media. Athena promptly replied, “teens search for self-esteem, fulfillment and a sense of belonging online.”
When asked about her greatest challenge this academic year, Athena responded that it is difficult not to let the pressure get to her. She’s trying to replace negative thoughts with motivating ones. Try hard, but also take advantage of tutoring help at schools, she suggests.
Reflecting on her time with Give Back, Athena is grateful that her scholarship has opened new opportunities for growth and friendships. Athena’s strengths in adapting to challenging situations and connecting to new people are clear in Give Back program events. And, her social experiences with Give Back have radiated out to influence her life at school. She knew some of her classmates by name, but since a small cohort of students at East Side all joined the Give Back program, they’ve become friends. Athena remarked that “if not for our shared common experience with Give Something Back, we might be strangers in our school. I’m glad that this is not the case. Thanks, Give Back!”