Fellows Testimonials

2019

Shakira Bullock, Boyd Anderson High School

Before the fellowship, I never knew how important meditation was to one’s life. 
People can get so caught up into their daily lives that they never have time to just check in with themselves. By having daily meditation, I have been able to keep up with myself and making sure I’m doing my best daily.
 

Maya Chorney, G-Star School of the Arts

By breathing and sitting quietly for just a few minutes I can centre myself and become more productive and focused on my schoolwork and conversations with others.

Victoria Gallastegui, Grandview Preparatory School

I am currently utilizing another mindfulness practice that Barb and Michelle taught us about recounting what you are grateful for at the end of the day. I share what I am grateful for with another fellow nearly every day (and we catch-up when we are not in contact), and this helps me to see the positives in the day, especially on those days when I’m feeling upset.

Brittany Meikle, Academic Solutions Academy

Throughout this program I found myself going through my daily life remembering as well as putting to practice the key components to achieve power from within. I noticed that I was conscious of balancing my time which reduced stress, improved my general well-being and the efficiency of my work performance. Though I still haven’t mastered learning to manage stress, I have been able to clear my mind and think more openly by taking a few minutes out the day to meditate.

Alexia Renaud, Fort Lauderdale High School

In order for me to excel in life, I have to care for myself in order to help others in my social life and activist efforts. Barb and Michelle’s mindfulness lessons have taught me this exactly. The lessons have deeply impacted me this semester because I have learned to check in on myself every day.

Shirley Xu, FAU High School

The event along with class really reminded me why I’m here, what I’m doing this for, and who I am... at the end of the day the world is what we make it out to be and I decidee to see a world with potential to change.

Noor Arizaleta Kadhim, Boca Raton High School

This really symbolizes how the fellowship helped me push my boundaries, both academically and socially. Through the group formation, for example, I had to bring a group of people together as Director and make sure that everybody felt like they were part of a common cause that they were passionate about.

Nicole Auchinleck, Boca Raton High School

A reason why this was a favorite class of mine because it was a hands-on youth to youth facilitated collaboration. Being able to learn from a group of teenagers that have had the experience of organizing and being at the forefront of their own activism is a rare and wonderful experience to have been able to be a part of.

Emily Briceno, Suncoast High School

I learned how to make things even better by all of the knowledge that I gained from the fellowship. I know that I have grown as a leader and have a better perspective about how to maintain momentum for my cause.

2020

Eureka Apollon, Atlantic High School

My sense of empowerment also changed. Every single morning Barb and Michelle came in, I felt my sense of empowerment improving. Those were one of my favorite parts of the fellowship. Not only did I learn to cope with stress, but I also learned important life lessons such as setting up limits with people.

Isabella Caldwell, Dreyfoos School of the Arts

The Barb Schmidt Fellowship has been the best decision I have made and the best thing I have participated in this year. I truly feel as if my life has changed. Being in the presence of such strong and intelligent women and men throughout this year has inspired me to become a better activist and a better person.

Daisy Campos, Lake Worth High School 

This process is helping me become confident within myself. This is important because if we are confident we can make ourselves heard when we notice something is wrong. I feel like I can accomplish anything right now. If I see something is wrong or unjust I am confident that I can voice my opinion to get it resolved.

Chekube Chukwuma, Atlantic High School

After months of team building exercises, group work, and connecting with our communities, I can say with absolute certainty that my confidence has never run deeper than it has right now. I finally understand that I don’t have to rely only on myself to complete the hard work that is social activism. As I have realized throughout the semester, there are so many people waiting in the wing ready to help out in any way that they can.

And:

Even more important, however, is the ability to communicate with myself. The mindfulness sessions Barb and Michelle conducted every class showed me how to tap into ​me​ in ways I never imagined. Setting boundaries, understanding my desires, and making sure that I live in the moment have become essential parts of my routine.

Abdul Essani, FAU High School

This has also made me more confident in my future, because I have realized that the sky really is the limit and the opportunities within our world are boundless. We just have to get past the one thing that is holding us back -- which is ourselves. By actively making a change in your life and trying your hardest to accomplish your goals, while also being mindful along the way you can really achieve anything.

Zachariah John, FAU High School

But due to all this, I have come out of the other end an efficient communicator. I am able to quickly and easily explain our movement and goals, and I am able to get my ideas across very efficiently to other people. I have become much more adaptable in these situations as well.

Rakiyah Khan, Western High School

Change is a term that I have become incredibly familiar with throughout the past year. With my new knowledge on advocacy,              I desire to tackle every single affair that I believe needs to be rectified.

Natalia Lanier, Dreyfoos School of the Arts

I had never before thought I could be a part of something so real and important. This will empower me for the rest of my life and it helped me understand that I can accomplish much more than I thought that I would. With this sense of empowerment for me, came passion. I long struggled to find a passion that would make me love the work I was doing and motivate me to create.                        The empowerment that came from our guest speakers, in turn gave me the passion to start something important.

Julianna Lian, FAU High School

There’s a line between curiosity and wonder that gets blurred sometimes, but wonder, at least our form, is unique to humans and our development! The fellowship has taught me to appreciate that: being in the moment also means taking time to do things for the wonder of it rather than the practicality or future benefit!

Kylie Long, FAU High School

There was not a day that I left the fellowship without a sense of empowerment, inspiration, and the ability to think more critically. Barb and Michelle’s presence always lit up the room and the mindfulness exercises always left me feeling relaxed and reassured.

Neil Paul, Boca Raton High School

Overall, this fellowship grew me as a person and a change-maker. Instead of sulking about world issues or community problems, I’m always looking for ways to fix them. I have become more vocal in asking questions instead of pondering them in my head. My confidence and sense of self has also really grown. This experience has been truly life-altering. 

Theo Shusterman, Dreyfoos School of the Arts

I also watched some of my classmates speak up and share their own thoughts and experiences. This helped empower me to build my own confidence in speaking up during the fellowship. If my classmates could be outspoken, so could I.

Sebastian Wojtowicz, Atlantic High School

Now, each time my head starts spinning, I know I can use meditation as a tool to bring myself back to my normal functional self. The idea of control also factored in to these lessons. The knowledge of what I have control of within myself and body lent me a greater sense of self-empowerment.

2021 – Fully online

Aleena George, Atlantic Technical College and High School

When I think back to high school down the line, the Barb Schmidt Fellowship will be an integral part of my memories. I have gained so much experience in working together in groups, creating an organization, and problem-solving.

Katrina Dobinda, FAU High School

However, the fellowship became more specific, with each session focusing on a specific aspect of organization building, with one specific meeting being about fundraising strategies regarding different ways to network, another being on creating a clear and concise mission statement and explanation of your organization (the golden circle), or one meeting on how to create different items for your communication strategy, such as utilizing Canva. Each of these meetings slowly opened my eyes and continuously demonstrated how to implement each aspect of the creating and planning process into a well-rounded and successful organization.

And:

Each time I turned my camera on and chose to participate, I felt validated and heard, and it persuaded me to want to do it more often after each session. This fellowship taught how okay it is to be vulnerable and how an in depth discussion on personal or educational topics can impact you.

Kayla Simpson, FAU High School

One of my favorite activities of the fellowship involved the Golden Circle and brainstorming with your peers on what exactly we are trying to accomplish and how. Usually, when describing an organization, the flow of thought is: “What are the goals of this organization? How does it achieve its goals? Why does this organization aim to achieve them?”. However, the Golden Circle challenges you to answer the questions in reverse, treating the “Why?” as the first and most important question. Asking yourself “why” before “what” forces you to truly consider what your efforts are truly trying to accomplish in the long run, before skipping onto how exactly it will be done.

And:

The fellowship provided me credible information from other activists, organizations, and even politicians and all of this new information has shaped my perception on the amount of effort it really takes to mobilize social change.

Megan Enriquez, Grandview Preparatory School

Getting to practice writing about the information I care about, gave me an outlet to express my opinions and become comfortable with putting my thoughts into coherent words, plus it was a communication tool for presenting our ideas. Now, anyone who reads what I write can empathize with me and I can have a lasting impact on others.

Daniel Wandzilak, Deerfield Beach High School

Being part of the 2020-2021 Barb Schmidt Fellowship was the step I needed to become the best version of myself, and for that I am forever grateful for such an amazing experience.

Maria Veronica Macias, Cypress Bay High School

Over the course of this year, not only was I able to break the 4th wall by making meaningful relationships all through Zoom with my professors and other fellows, but I was able to create an organization that helps other women while simultaneously fighting systems of power that have held women at a disadvantage.

Jayita Golam, Deerfield Beach High School

It soon became evident to me that the voice I possess is very powerful and I should not be afraid to use it when it could do so much good for this world. Empowerment comes from within and I just needed a little ‘push’ to fully witness that in myself.