Reflections from Step Up on High School Campuses

//Programs, Mentorship, What We Do

Reflections from Step Up on High School Campuses

Step Up thanks our network of educators across our partner high school campuses nationwide! See our highlights from 2022 and reflect with us as we build upon the momentum in 2023:

New Year Reflections for Educators

Every January we are faced with the same messaging- that you need to make changes, and this year is the year to be the best version of yourself you can be. While it’s important to always work on yourself and prioritize your wellness, the concept of “the New Year’s resolution” may feel overwhelming. Winter break feels shorter and shorter every year, and starting a new semester after some time off might take some getting used to. This time of year, may bring on a lot of pressure and anxiety to improve, and finding a place to start is difficult. As educators you give so much of yourself to others, but giving back to yourself shouldn’t be a luxury. Here at Step Up we are proud of each and every one of you for your contributions to our organization, and your school. Instead of the New Year’s Resolution we invite you to take some time for a New Year’s Reflection. Reflections offer an opportunity for self-appreciation and positive self-talk.

Instead of thinking about everything you need to do, take the time to reflect on what you have done. Whether you write it down or just think about your answers in your head, we challenge you to say your answers out loud to yourself, because you deserve to hear how wonderful you are from yourself. Here are a few reflection questions for you to sit with and reflect on for your own personal and professional lives:

What is one thing you did in 2022 that you are proud of in your personal life?

What is one thing you did in 2022 that you are proud of in your professional life?

When did you feel the most in your element in 2022?

When did you feel the most drained in 2022? What made you feel better after this happened?

What day would you live over again from 2022?

What advice would you go back to give yourself on Jan 1st 2022?

What is your favorite thing about yourself right now as you are reading this?

What is one word you would use to describe 2022?

What is one word you would use to describe how you want your 2023 to go?

Meet the Fellows who bring Step Up to campus!

Name: Ruby Pena

Role at Uplift Infinity: College and Career Counselor

Number of years at Uplift Infinity: 7 years

SU: Why did you decide to bring Step Up on Campus to Uplift Infinity?

RP: I decided to bring Step Up because I have a passion for empowering students, especially female students. I had a club last year called EmpowHer, which focused on self-advocacy and fighting for equality on campus. After looking over the Step Up website, I felt that this organization would be a great part of my school because it focuses on female empowerment and career exploration.

SU: Why did you decide to become a fellow?

RP: I decided to become a fellow because I wanted to be a part of the Step Up program and make sure my campus was able to embrace this opportunity. I align myself with the mission of the Step Up program of guiding female students to become their best self and achieve success in their life.

SU: What do you enjoy most about being a fellow?

RP: I enjoy just working with my students. I am a college counselor, so this matches with what I do every day. We get to talk about life, their hopes and dreams, and create a safe space for each other.

SU: How did you recruit students for the program?

RP: I tabled at a club fair event and put up posters. My student ambassador talked to people in her grade about joining.

SU: What is one highlight from your sessions so far?

RP: During one session about financial literacy, my students were shocked when they learned how much money it takes to adult, this pushed them to start working harder in school.

SU: Anything else you want to share with our school partners around the country?

RP: I think this program is great because the lessons are really easy and already made. It provides female students a space to just be themselves and the spotlight is on them.

Name: Kimberly Peters

Role at Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy: Postsecondary Counselor

Number of years at Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy: 3 years

SU: Why did you decide to bring Step Up on Campus to BELA?

KP: I decided to bring STEP- Up to BELA because, this is a great program to build confidence in our young people. We live in a society that at times promotes negative/ unhealthy goals for our people's lives. I believe that the Step-Up program is a safe space for young women to be their authentic selves, learn how to be empowered, to have a voice for themselves and those who don't have a voice.

SU: Why did you decide to become a fellow?

KP: I became a fellow because I love to inspire and give back to others. When I was young I was a part of a mentorship program and I have seen the impact of someone taking time to share their experiences and knowledge with me. Being a part of those types of programs shaped me as a person. I want to be the person that helps students navigate life.

SU: What do you enjoy most about being a fellow?

KP: What I enjoy the most are the transformations I see in students and the time the students get to engage with each other. Some may enter the Step-Up program not feeling confident about their goals and aspirations. However, after a few weeks of the curriculum, I noticed the confidence and this sense of purpose. During the school day, many students are not able to engage with each other or have never spoken to a Step-up member before the program. I enjoy seeing the connections the students have outside of classroom time.

SU: How did you recruit students for the program?

KP: How I recruited was first sending an email blast out to the school community to determine interest, and having sign-up times during lunch and dismissal with treats, and flyers. What I found helped the most is having some type of incentive to motivate students to join. They may join because there may be food every session but then they realize it is more than food but gems that they can use to navigate life. Our students need 100 volunteer hours to graduate and we provide them with some hours for participating in Step-up.

SU: What is one highlight from your sessions so far?

KP: One of our highlights was visiting NBCU. Many of our students were exposed to careers in media and learned about the different aspects of work at NBC. All of the students enjoyed it and it was such an enriching experience.

SU: Anything else you want to share with our school partners around the country?

KP: We are super grateful to have Step-Up at our school and it further enhances my work with my young people.

Developing Professional Skills and Networking

Explore Pathways with PepsiCo in Chicago

Step-up teens from Ogden International High School in Chicago visited Pepsi Co for an Explore Pathways event where they were able to have a tour of the impressive Pepsi Co office located in the old post office in the Chicago Loop! Step Up teens had the opportunity for interactive experiences and a chance to learn from and collaborate with Pepsi Co step up mentors. They took a tour of the workspaces and met people that are instrumental to the success of the company. They learned about the history of Pepsico in Chicago and how their brand has grown over the past several years. The Step Up teens were able to participate in an open Q&A session with different staff members about their career path, what they have learned in their time at Pepsico and their reflections on the importance of workplace culture.

In this photo above is one of the three mentor workshop groups.

In this photo, Step up students engaged in an interactive meeting room used at Pepsi Co.

The Blueprint to Putting Yourself First with Candace Nelson

The Blueprint to Putting Yourself first presented by Visible was a Mentor/Mentee workshop event featuring the co-founder of Sprinkles cupcakes, Candace Nelson. The Blueprint to Putting Yourself First created a space for young adults ages 18-23 and mentors to discuss negotiating, decision-making, and setting yourself up for a powerful new year through rest and reflection.

Contact the Community Engagement Team

Director of Community Engagement, Maya Menon:

Community Engagement Associate, Maile Lazarin:

Community Engagement Associate, Danielle Pesqueira:

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