Erika has applied to attend Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL): Spring this summer and is raising funds for her program fees. Can you help?
Environmental & Outdoors
Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS)
Successfully funded on April 17th, 2014!
Fully funded!
$3,196 raised
$0 to go
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Erika's Story

Any opportunity that is handed to me I will take, regardless of how challenging it is or how near to impossible it may sound. As a junior I am taking 3 AP classes, one of the few that have ever done this at my school. I am working harder than I have ever worked before.

I have lived in a place where I know how fast dreams can be taken away from you and how fast unimaginable things can occur. I want to get out of this community in order to study and then one day come back as a more educated individual to change the communities I grew up in. Everything I see as heartbreaking only gives me more motivation to show everyone that I can do all that I want, regardless of where I come from. I am most excited about finally reaching college and then graduating and giving back to communities that need the help.

I have always wanted to travel and learn about different cultures around the world. I want to learn why it is that so many different people all over the world have such different beliefs and how they make use of all of their resources and surroundings. This program would allow me to study the land and features of an environment I might not otherwise be introduced to. Furthermore, participation in this program would allow me to apply the life skills necessary to communicate with others around me, and will give me the advantage of furthering my personal skills with people I have never met before. I will be pushed beyond my boundaries and will learn how to defend myself while exploring and learning about a diverse culture.

A Note from Ms. MacNeil, Erika's Teacher

It would be impossible for me to overstate how brilliant a human being Erika is. Erika is a tireless advocate for social justice causes. She is the founder and president of our school's Peer Tutor program. She has volunteered at soup kitchens, in elementary school classes and on literally countless student committees. She is selfless, thoughtful and generous.

I have been moved to help her seek funding for the BELL: Hawai'i Program with Brown University because Erika, a constant giver, deserves to have a chance to sustain herself and her passions. Because of her interest in STEM related topics, the opportunity to explore the biological diversity of Hawai'i in order to apply her learning to her own urban community in New York City is crucial. Through this program, Erika will be able to explore her academic interests in local solutions to sustainable living, and to travel, and in doing so, to take risks around her own comfort zones.

Campaign Activity
Erika posted an update
April 21
Sustainable farming and memories of a lifetime in Hawaii

During the program, we studied a wide range of subjects while in Hawaii; I studied marine biology, Hawaiian history, sustainable farming, leadership styles, social changes, fish anatomy, and lastly I studied the substrate of the beach we were living on as part of my science project. I learned so much at this program, but I will share the most important ideas. I learned that sustainable farming and living is extremely hard and requires hard work, but it is not as impossible as we make it seem. I also learned about different leadership styles, and how there are several types of leaders that all have flaws and advantages to them. Finally, I also learned about the importance of coral reefs and how diverse Hawaii is with their marine life. 
My first day was unique, it was as if I had landed on a completely different universe, so many strangers surrounded me to greet me and were all so friendly and welcoming. Quickly as we piled into the vans to reach our destination, Kilauea Military Camp, and I got to know everyone who was in my van in a matter of two hours. It was just mind blowing and I did not ever expect that strangers could be so affable. 

The most surprising thing is how quickly we are all bonding, it is only our third day and already we are all speaking and playing games all on our own to get to know each other even more. It is so crazy to me how I can get to know so many people in such a short amount of time and actually care for them. 
Many events impacted me while at the program. However, I would have to say the most significant was when I visited a sustainable farm by a couple named Lynn and Jeff and they had shared their story with every single one of us. It was admirable to see how they could carry about their lives in a farm absolutely every thing they ate was produced by them. They tried so many times after failed attempts to keep their farm sustainable and it was a humbling experience to see how they lived. I wish I had the strength to live my life one day like they do. 
I realized that we take a lot of things for granted and we do not necessarily stop to realize the beauty in the nature around us. It is astonishing how much we do not use in nature and how we overuse things we can never get back. The importance of living a sustainable life, and now I want to share all that I learned with all my friends to try and save the resources we still have left and create a cleaner environment for us all. 
I already have recommended this program to one of my friends because not only is it amazing because it was in Hawaii, but it allows you to learn so much you never knew you could know and even allows you to discover certain parts of yourself you never knew. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, as you will be camping with people you have never met before, use outdoor showers, use compost toilets, have no electricity, and so much more! 

Erika posted an update
April 17
Thank you

Thank you so much for allowing me to come closer to reaching my goal of attending Brown University's Environmental Leadership Lab in Hawaii. Every effort counts and I am filled with gratitude and appreciate you for believing in me and knowing that this experience will benefit me in a myriad of ways. Once again thank you for your generosity and for allowing me to attend my dream program!

Success! Ms. MacNeil helped Erika raise $3,195
April 17
Jason Foral donated $2,576
April 17
Lisa Sweeney donated $25
April 7

An Anonymous Donor matched this donation with $25

Anonymous donated $160
March 28
Donna Smith donated $25
February 27
Donny Bounds donated $25
February 17
Corey Beardsley donated $50
January 26


Your profile inspired me because despite the hardships around you, you stay hopeful and ambitious. You are following a path that will lead to great things for both you, your community and the world. I liked that your dreams aren't just self involved, but also about helping our world and thus others. This opportunity through Wishbone is just the start of your incredible journey so enjoy every road, both bumpy and smooth:)

Barbara Beatty donated $100
January 24
Jonathan Baudanza donated $50
January 23
Ms. MacNeil started this campaign
January 22
Erika was accepted into Wishbone!
January 17