Category Archives: Betas

Abigail Taylor-Roth

Hometown: Juneau, AK

Education: Mathematics & Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Colby College

Abigail grew up in Juneau, Alaska before attending Colby College in Waterville, Maine. There, she became increasingly interested in both the natural sciences and humanities fields and eventually graduated with a double major in Mathematics and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Computer Science. She loves working in the intersection of these disciplines and has enjoyed doing so through teaching mathematics and computer science. She is excited to share her love of math as a BETA this upcoming year.

Alex Babbitt

Hometown: Kalamazoo, MI

Education: English, Michigan State University

Alex has had a lifelong appreciation for learning and education. In college, he was drawn to learning so many different things, and eventually landed on English as his major. He found that his passion for education and learning extended beyond that, and into a desire to help give others the gift of education. After spending 4 years teaching sexual and relationship violence prevention to first and second year students, Alex is excited to learn more about the field of education and being an educator in a k-12 setting in general. Most importantly though, he is looking forward to seeing young people learn and grow.

Amanni Smith

Hometown: Freeport, NY

Education: English, Queens College

Amanni Smith grew up in Freeport, NY and graduated from Queens College with her Bachelor’s Degree in English. After she graduated from Queens College in 2016, she pursued a career in social work and serviced many New Yorkers from ages newborn to 50 years old. Most of her career in social work she worked with youth in the foster care system and some in the judicial system. As their case worker, Amanni assessed their individual and family needs and reunited or created new families to foster a healthy life for the youth. In her spare time she also volunteered as a youth leader at her church where she taught dance and step to teenage girls. Amanni’s experience with youth in the foster and judicial systems has given her a perspective of what life may be like for some youth outside of school. She believes that the trauma that could be taking place in some of the youth’s lives will definitely effect their performance in school and she is looking forward to creating strong support systems for the youth to heighten their chance for success.

Anson O’Connor

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Education: Biology, Clark University

Graduating in Clark University’s class of 2019, Anson gravitated toward Blue Engine due to his experience in child care during and before college, his love of working with kids, and his desire to help the communities in the city he grew up in. Although he majored in biology, he sees the importance of understanding math as a precursor to many college majors, as well as its use in the real world. By participating in Blue Engine, he not only hopes to help kids through the “turmoils” of school, but also hopes to be a positive influence in their lives, helping these children with any obstacles that might come their way.

Aracely Rivera

Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY

Education: History, SUNY New Paltz

Aracely is from Poughkeepsie, NY and recently received her B.A. in History from SUNY New Paltz. As a proud daughter of immigrants, she is interested in examining the historical narratives of Latinx immigrants in the United States. At SUNY New Paltz, Aracely explored this interest through her undergraduate coursework in Latin American history, American history, and Black Studies. Aracely’s interest in the American immigrant experience has sparked her interest in education. She’d like to facilitate an equitable learning experience for all students, particularly those from under-resourced backgrounds. Aracely is excited at the opportunity to do just that with Blue Engine.

Avery Oliver

Hometown: Dumont, NJ

Education: Biological Sciences, University of Connecticut

Facilitating the learning, development, and growth of the youth has always been a passion for Avery. He was drawn to the core values of Blue Engine: The belief in the infinite potential of all humans, and being a part of a system that liberates that potential. In the coming year, Avery is excited to be someone who is in the position to make an impact on these young kids lives because, when it is all said and done, they are the future and a little positive encouragement could make all the difference.

Bradford Smith

Hometown: Dix Hills, NY

Education: Political Science, Columbia University

Bradford’s prior work experience has primarily been with education nonprofits such as Prep for Prep, and through these experiences he witnessed the ways in which different styles of teaching and a greater attention on each individual student can positively impact a child’s outlook on school and their assessment of their own ability to succeed, both within and outside of academics. In his time as a BETA, he hopes to encourage kids to view school not just as something to get through, but an avenue through which they can improve themselves and explore their own interests, and begin to shape their own futures.

Brandon Loh

Hometown: Queens, NY

Education: Psychology, New York University

Brandon, born and raised in Queens, New York, is a recent graduate of New York University where he studied psychology. During his time at NYU, Brandon worked as a research intern in development and education labs where he discovered a passion for child development. With aspirations to become a pediatrician in the future, Brandon sought out gap year opportunities that would allow him to both give back to his community and work with kids. He looks forward to mentoring students and supporting their academic development.

Briana McKenzie

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Education: Sociology, State University of New York at New Paltz

Since high school Briana always believed it was her duty to support and give back to her community. After interning with the NYC Department of Education between her sophomore and junior year, she realized that she wanted to pursue a career focused on education policy, in order to address the disparity of New York state’s education system. Additionally, being a first generation college student who had to navigate college life as well as family expectations, Briana knows of the difficulties encountered by many of the students she will soon meet. Through Blue Engine Briana will serve her community by lending her support to students who have a similar background to hers. Through education, she hopes to teach students embrace their self-identity and assist them in navigating a world that can seem unfamiliar.

Briana Snyder-Harper

Hometown: Yorktown Heights, NY

Education: Adolescent English Education, Mercy College

Briana learned that she wanted to be a teacher while in Special Education in the 6th grade. This ultimately lead to her pursuing a teaching program offered by the local BOCES which allowed her to intern in a middle school classroom 2 days a week when she was 17. Briana then went to college where she began her journey in taking both English and Education courses. She is excited to make a difference in students lives, help build their confidence and love for education!

Christian Criolo

Hometown: Ossining, NY

Education: History, Hunter College

Christian is a recent graduate from Hunter College and majored in History. He has always been interested in helping people, especially when it comes to helping them shape their future. He has worked as a tutor for students of the English language learning community. He also served as a tutor for adult students looking to pursue their high school equivalency exam. Recently, Christian traveled back Ecuador, which is where he is from, and saw the need for social and educational assistance which brought him to the decision to apply to Blue Engine. Since he learned about social systems and their effects he has always sought to ameliorate circumstances for desenfranchised. Christian hopes through this program he is able to continue his mission to shape the future.

Coeli Fleming-Kelly

Hometown: Portland, OR

Education: Spanish Studies, Fordham University

Coeli is a recent graduate of Fordham University where she earned her degree in Spanish Studies. Growing up she was surrounded by several family members who were passionate about their jobs as teachers, something that has inspired her to find great value in education. Throughout the years Coeli served as a tutor in various settings and participated in AmeriCorps’ Jumpstart program, going into pre-school classrooms to help bridge the gap in kindergarten readiness. In her free time Coeli loves getting outside and staying active. She is so excited to join Blue Engine this year because of their focus on social justice through education.

Darlene Valenzuela

Hometown: New York, NY

Education: Psychology, University of Tampa

Darlene grew up in a Dominican household where she learned the importance of unity and family. She has always found a love for mentoring and caring for people, as she is the eldest of four siblings. Besides her passion for helping others, she loves the arts, especially painting, reading and writing, which have been encouraged by the works of her mother and aunt. Throughout her high school and college years, Darlene has volunteered at a community bookstore, a girls youth program and worked for a karate afterschool program in Washington Heights. In college, she joined the Omega Alpha Pi International Sorority Inc., whose motto is to spread love, and equality for all life. Darlene is excited to be a BETA because she feels that she can positively impact the lives of her peers and students of color who grow up in inner city neighborhoods just like hers. She believes in empowerment through shared experience. She wants to inspire and uplift students, and is passionate about helping them find their voice. In this program she hopes to acquire mentoring and teaching skills that for sure will be helpful in her career in counseling.

Destiny Pascall

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Education: English, York College CUNY

After graduating from York College, Destiny joined Blue Engine because her future goal is to be a teacher. She saw that Blue Engine gives prospective teachers an opportunity to be part of a classroom.  Growing up, Destiny was part of many programs that helped her get college ready and focused on education. She wants to provide those services to the future generation. She looks forward to becoming part of something bigger than herself, to be involved in helping children and learning. More importantly, she sees Blue Engine as an avenue to give back to a community that needs it and is very excited to serve the community.

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