Posts in From the Team
Life of a Fellow: Ebony

Ebony graduated from Temple this past May with a major in Adult and Organizational Development and a minor in History. Ebony is a photographer, people watcher, and museum hopper. Ebony is a former 12+ Temple Chapter volunteer, and she now comes to 12+ as a Fellow at KHSA.


Vianca offered the warmest welcome to the new Fellows at Kensington Health Sciences Academy. She was the first student I met at KHSA and since that day our relationship has blossomed. The foundation of our bond started with our mutual love for art. We share images we have captured, drawings, poetry, and creative writings. Gaining this bond with Vianca is just one of the many things I’d like to highlight about my journey as a Fellow. I interviewed Vianca about her experiences with 12+ and her involvement with the PLUS Center this year. During my interview with Vianca, I asked her to share as much as she was comfortable with. We also took a few pictures as we walked the streets surrounding KHSA.


So, tell me about yourself!
“My name is Vianca. I always wanted to have my grandma's last name, Cancel, but my dad said no! I love photography, drawing, poetry, and writing stories. I’ll be a writer one day. I love interacting with people! Like if someone needs help or advice, I love talking and helping people through personal problems. I think I get that from my dad. He is my biggest inspiration. He gets advice from his aunt all the time and passes her advice to me. I also want to learn Spanish, so I can talk to her.”

What are some of your long term goals?
“I know what my goals are but I’m experiencing one of my goals now. I never thought I would make it this far. I had some very eye opening experiences but I’m glad to be where I am now. Long term goals? College, of course. I’m going to be a writer! My dad started college but didn't finish. My mom struggled a lot in life. I want to finish where my dad left off. It’s like my dad started this path to college, and I’m going to finish. For the both of us.”

How has the PLUS Leader Program shaped your leadership qualities?
“I feel like the PLUS Leader Program just polished the leadership skills and qualities I already knew I had. It’s like an oyster. You know, the shell is shut until someone opens it, but the pearl is still shining inside. Just like my qualities and skills were in me, just needed help embracing them. The PLUS Leader Program opened me up and developed my skills. I knew I had the potential to be a leader, I just didn’t know how. Now since I’ve graduated from the program, I still use what I learned outside of the PLUS Center.”

What about 12+ do you enjoy this year?
“I really like the individuality between each Fellow. Everyone in the Center is so easy to get along with. When I see you all in the morning, it makes my day! Even if I am having a bad day, I know I can come in, talk to y'all and my day will get better. The relationships I have gained with 12+ from this year and years before has been awesome. I have this thing about positive people. People who make positive changes in my life hold a special place in my heart. That’s where 12+ is.” 


Any last words?
“I love having 12+ in our school. Being involved with 12+ has been a form of validation for me. Now, I know how awesome I am. Now, I know how strong I am. 12+ just confirmed and validated my goals for me, while helping me become stronger. Every school should have a 12+.”

Captured by Vianca

Captured by Vianca

Life of a Fellow: Ciara

Ciara is a Jersey girl and Yankees fan (we don't hold it against her), who graduated from Southern Connecticut State with a double major in Library Science and Psychology and William Paterson University with her master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology. Outside of 12+, you can find Ciara running and exploring Philly with her dogs, Rocco and Curtis. Ciara brings her wide range of celebrity impersonations and humor to the Kensington Health Sciences Academy PLUS Center this year. 

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I find myself asking some variation of this question daily. As seniors at Kensington Health Sciences are finalizing college applications, juniors and underclassman are beginning to chat about their college plans. My first questions always pertain to, “Well, what do you want to do?” Some students launch into detailed descriptions of their ideal job, degree and even anticipated salary. Other students list five to ten unrelated career paths, with the intention of conquering the entire list. Others still, respond with a blank stare flavored with a horrifying realization of the future. I was oblivious to the pressure conveyed with my question until I was put in the hot seat myself. 

About a month ago, Christie Garton, founder of UChic*, met with female students at Kensington Health Sciences Academy to learn about their stories and role models. As the “grown-ups” in the room, the 12+ staff was asked to share what their dream in life is and what steps they have taken towards that dream. I responded, about my dream to provide family therapy in underserved communities. I backed up my dream with the Master’s degree that I received in Clinical and Counseling Psychology, and experience providing family therapy in a group home setting. I listened to the dreams of my peers and felt inspired, then carried on with my day.

It was not until later that evening that I sat on my couch and realized for the first time, I felt uneasy about my response. Sure, I would love to continue my work as a counselor and provide family therapy where it is needed. The truth is, however, I would also love to pursue a counseling and teaching career at a higher education institution. For a very long time my dream was to be a librarian. I have the bachelor’s degree to support it. My dream to publish a book is not dead yet, nor is my dream to become a yoga instructor with the ability to incorporate therapeutic teachings in sessions. I will admit there is still a large part of me holding onto my stand-up comedian dream. The point is, my dream has changed and will continue to change.

When put in the position to answer for myself, essentially I panicked. I responded with the first thing that came to my mind. It is never my intention to pressure our students to provide an answer for their dreams. Instead, as a 12+ Fellow, I want to accompany them on the journey to figure out their dream, change it, and figure it out again! After this valuable experience I have made an effort to share the message that it is okay to change your dream. I comfort students who may not know yet what they want and spread a more important message -- that you have time to figure out your constantly evolving dream.

* UChic is an organization focused on empowering the dreams of young women and funding the extracurricular expenses of their dream through scholarships.