Monday, December 21, 2015

2015 Elizabeth Fellows Year in Review!

                        Fellows at Special Blessing's "One Magical Christmas" 

2015 was a big year for the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation.  We welcomed 11 new sophomores into the fellows program for a grand total of 27 Elizabeth fellows.  This is the biggest group of fellows to date!  Additionally, the inaugural class, who started the program back in 2012, graduated high school in May, and 6 fellows entered college in the fall.  We also welcomed back 6 volunteer mentors from the 2014-15 school year, and recruited 18 new mentors, for a total of 24 wonderful mentors who support the fellows in the program.  Finally, in the past year, we completed 65 program hours engaging in activities and discussions around life skills, college prep, and academic development, visited 7 different colleges in North Carolina, and engaged in 75 hours of community service throughout the Triangle. 

We have accomplished a lot this year.  Through all the ups and downs, joys and challenges, what stands out are our experiences together.   Just like Elizabeth Edwards believed in the power of people to support each other and to lift each other up, so the Elizabeth Fellows program stands as a community of students, mentors, and families who help one another, provide each other with new opportunities, and help fellows discover their passions, and reach their goals.

We asked fellows and mentors, “What has been your favorite memory of the program this year?”     

Elijah Prattis (sophomore fellow)                                                                                                        

“I really liked when we went to the Interfaith Food Shuttle Teaching Farm.  I like hands- on activities that help other people.  I also liked leading the goats to their barn.  When all the girls said no, I stepped up to do it.  It was fun.”

                         Feeding goats at the Interfaith Teaching Farm 

Deja Tomlinson (sophomore fellow)                                                                                                   

“The thing I most enjoyed about the program is having a mentor, because my mentor is awesome. Also, we did a lot of cool service projects. My most memorable would have to be the Boo Bash service project.   It was really fun!” 

                                      Deja and her mentor Ali at Boo Bash 

Regina D’Auria (mentor to senior fellow, Ahyanna Griffith)                                  

“Something I really value and appreciate about the program is how I am given the gift of getting to know such awesome high school students who are motivated to succeed! These teenagers are passionate, hardworking, and committed individuals that truly act as role models to their peers. In the short time that I've been a part of this program, I've seen this leadership not only in my own mentee, but also at the events I've attended with her cohorts. This is such a unique program that gives benefits to both the mentor and mentee relationship. I am thankful to be a part of this program heading into the New Year!!” 

Mercedes Stephens (senior fellow)                                                                                                        

“I loved going to Washington D.C. I really enjoyed visiting the Capitol, going on the paddle boats, and watching Shear Madness. Oh, and the restaurants were great. Especially Merzi!”

                                           Fellows at the White House

Kadiejatu Johnson (junior fellow)                                                                                    

“Volunteering at the International Festival.  We were helping out and meeting other fellows.  It’s always fun.  Now I am friends with those fellows and they always ask me if I’m going to other service projects.” 

                            Fellows at the Raleigh International Festival 

Amy Waters (mentor to junior fellow, Amena Mohammadi)                                                             

“Amena has gone through a big change this year by moving and switching schools.  She is so pleased to be able to continue to participate in this program.  I have been so impressed with her ease and maturity in dealing with this transition.  Besides the move I am in general excited by the confidence she now possesses.” 

Ty’Shae’ Cousar (senior fellow)

“Going to SkyZone was fun.  I loved being around the other fellows in different grades.  I also really enjoyed visited colleges like ECU and NC A&T, because it gave me a feel of where I wanted to go to college.”

                                                 Fellows on ECU Tour

Stephany Mejia (mentor to sophomore fellow, Jénaŷa Smith)                                              

“Walking through the Art Museum and seeing Jénaŷa enjoy the art work, and take her time to take in the meaning and significance of each piece is one of the memories I cherish the most.  Our appreciation for art, music, and film are huge similarities which we share. It is important to see the connections that the arts bring to our lives!”

Juan Reyes Ortiz (junior fellow)

“Going to visit Wake Tech, NC State, and Duke with my mentor, German.  I wouldn’t of thought of the idea of visiting or had the time to go without him.  I’m glad he took me because I found out a lot of useful information.”    ioject.  would have to be the b

                                                     Juan at Duke 

Marcy Bullock (mentor to junior fellow, Samantha Messie)                                                               
“I really enjoyed the fun 30 Day Challenge Celebration and the cookies and T-shirts!”

                                         30 day challenge at NC State 

Louis Duke (mentor to junior fellows, Cristian Tompkins)

“When I look back over my first semester mentoring through the program, I'm struck by how full of surprises the experience has been. What you think you're getting when you sign up to mentor a teenager is really not at all what you get. It's so much more."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Fellows Spotlight!

                                               Jénaŷa and her mentor, Stephany

Name: Jénaŷa Smith

Year: Sophomore

Favorite School SubjectVideo Production 

Hobbies/Extra Curricular ActivitiesDoing my makeup, Watching new shows/movies, Shopping

Desired Career: Film Director 

Where I want to attend college: UNC School of Arts or UNCW 

The thing that I like best about the fellows program: We're developing life skills that we don't get in school and we're given great opportunities. 

What I like about having a mentor: I can get advice from someone who's not my mom, and she can tell me about things that I take interest in that can help me which I wouldn't hear about otherwise. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

November Fellows Spotlight!

Meet fellow Ty’Shae’ Cousar, our spotlight of the month! 

Grade: Senior

What is your favorite subject in school? English and Theater

What are you favorite hobbies?  Listening to Rihanna, and anything involving fashion including, but not limited to: picking out clothes, buying clothes, choosing accessories or shoes, reading fashion magazines, watching TV shows involving fashion, joining fashion websites, stalking fashion bloggers and reblogging fashion on tumblr.

What are your career interests?  To work in fashion or become an actress  

What do you like about being in the fellows program?  What I LOVE about the fellows program is that this program gives me the support I need and makes me feel even more hopeful about my future. I love the guidance that I receive from Sarah and her lessons and all of the new things I learn about achieving goals and success!

What do you like best about having a mentor? What I like best about having a mentor is that I have someone who can keep me on the right track and who guides me through the steps I need to take in order to reach my goals in life. Azia is like a sister, because not only do we talk about college- related topics, but we also talk about life and how to deal with issues that come our way. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

You’ve Applied to College. Now What?

Congratulations!  You’ve officially submitted your college applications!  You should feel proud and relieved, like a big weight has been lifted off your shoulders, right?  The question is now what happens?  What can you expect to hear back from colleges?

Well, four things can occur.  One, you can be accepted into the college.  If this happens, you have until May 1st to make a decision whether to enroll or not.  You can visit the college again, talk to current students and faculty, and wait to see what kinds of scholarships of financial aid packages you’ll get to help you decide whether or not to attend.  Just make sure not to miss the deadline to send in your deposit.  You don’t want your spot going to someone else!    

Second, you can be rejected from the college.   In that case there is nothing much you can do.  While you can always try to call the admissions office and inquire as to why you were rejected, most won’t offer you a specific reason.   They’ll most likely tell you that they had a very competitive applicant pool and there were just not enough spots for everyone.  If this happens, it’s okay!  Look at the other schools you’ve applied to and what they offer.  You can have a great experience wherever you go.         

Third, you may be waitlisted.  If you are put on a waitlist it means that you are on the college’s radar but you are not their first option.  Thus, if enough students who are offered admission, decline to accept, colleges will go to their waitlist to build the incoming class.  If you are put on the waitlist, you can usually find out if the college has gone to their waitlist to accept students in the past.   You can also call the college and reaffirm that you want to remain on the list, and you will accept if you are offered a spot.  You could also follow up with a letter emphasizing how much you want to go there and any new information that might improve your chances of getting accepted.

Fourth, you may be deferred.  If you are applying Early Decision or Early Action, this means that your application goes back in the pool for regular decision applicants, and it will be reassessed at that time.  If you are applying regular decisions, and get deferred, it may mean that the admissions office needs more information before making their final decision.  This could be missing information from you application, or additional test scores or final course grades.   If you are deferred, call the admissions office to find out as much as you can about the reason.  Your guidance counselor can also make a phone call to find out any additional information that may improve your chances of getting in. 

Whether you are accepted, denied, waitlisted, or deferred, make sure you are on top of things with getting your deposit in or sending in additional information.   Even if you don’t get into your first choice school, your college experience is what you make out of it.  You’ll have a great experience no matter what college you choose as long as you are open to it.

Source: Acing the College Application by Michele A. Hernández, Ed.D.     


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Catching Up With Our College Freshmen Fellows!

It's Throwback Thursday!  Let's catch up with fellow Jackie Green!

What school are you currently attending?  Wake Tech.  I plan to transfer to North Carolina State in 2 years to study Biology.

What are your eventual career plans?  I would like to become a veterinarian.

What classes are you currently taking at Wake Tech?  What is your favorite class and why?
I am taking Pre Calculus, English, US History, and a College Transfer Course.  My favorite is English because I love the professor.  She is very understanding and provides us with help and resources at the school to help improve our grade in the course.

What is the biggest difference between high school and college?  Having the freedom and flexibility to choose my classes and when I take them.  I also sometimes get out of class early which never happened in high school!

What is your favorite part about being in college?  I love taking responsbility for my studies and finances.  I got a job at a kennel, and I'm learning how to manage my time between school, work, and a social life.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October Fellows Spotlight!

Name: Kadiejatu Johnson

Grade: Junior

What is your favorite subject(s) in school? Computer Arts and Chinese

What are you favorite hobbies? Drawing, listening to music, playing video games, and reading

What are your career interests?  Graphic design, photography, and counseling

What do you like best about being in the fellows program? I like that they help us to become a successful person and identify what you need to go down the right path. I also like that they help you explore what you want to become in the future. They will help you by sending you service opportunities and websites that relate to your career interest.

What do you like best about having a mentor? I like that if you have an interest in something they will help you or find someone who will help you. My mentor is very nice to hang out with and awesome in photography and she teaches me about it. My mentor gave me a book about photography that I can borrow, and I appreciate her helping me. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Catching Up With Our Freshmen College Fellows!

Check out what one our fellows from the first inaugural fellows class is up to in college!!!

Name: J'Nyce Poe

What college are you attending? I am a freshman at North Carolina Central University

What are you studying? I am majoring in Business and getting a minor in Psychology

How do you like your classes?  I love my classes.  I am taking 15 credit hours and making all A's and B's.  I especially like my History and Intro. to Geography class.  I'm really getting to know my teachers and attending office hours so they know me.

What else have you been involved with on campus?  I am involved with the Nixon Thorpe Psychology Club, the Eagle Sisters, and Gospel Choir.  I also work at the Music Library.

What do you like most about college? I like being on my own and being responsible for myself.  I also like making new connections and networks with people.  It's great being able to provide for myself.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Psychology of Paying for College

You’ve probably been told that college is an investment worth paying for.  According to the Pew Research Center, college graduates between the ages of 25-32, who are working full-time, make on average $17,400 more annually than students with only a high school degree.   In other words, the price of college is an investment in your future that should pay off in the end.  Paying for college as a new student, however, can seem daunting.  It is not only enough to arm yourself with the right resources and tools to pay for college, but to have the right mindset that says “yes, I can do this.”  

According to the book “1001 Ways to Pay for College”, there are four ways of thinking that can help you in the pursuit of college money.  First, you need to be persistent.   Most students who receive money apply to multiple scholarships many of which have small awards.  However, even small amounts of money can result in a bigger amount if you put them all together.  Even though you might receive more rejections, don’t let that stop you from applying to multiple scholarships.   

Second, you need to get creative.  Did you know that scholarships are available from service clubs, religious organizations, you or your parent’s employers, businesses, professional sports organizations, and others?  You need to expose yourself to as many different scholarships as possible to find the right ones.  From there it is just a matter of finding scholarships that fit your background, talents, and achievements.   Think about what makes you unique and find scholarships that fit these things. 

Third, you need to have a long-term vision.  Paying for college is a marathon, not a sprint.  Break up your goal of paying for college into smaller steps.  Maybe one step is looking for scholarships and grants offered by your college.  Another is researching outside sources for money, and another, filling out your FAFSA.   Remember, every little bit of money you put towards college will help in reaching your end goal. 

Finally, remember to have faith.  Paying for college is a lot of work but it is work well spent.  Have confidence that what you are doing now will pay off in the end.  Don’t forget what you are doing this all for.  This motivation will drive you in your path to paying for college.    

For more ideas about how to pay for college check out:

1001 Ways to Pay for College by Gen and Kelly Tanabe 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fellows Spotlight of the Month!

Raquel Adams is a sophomore in the fellows program.  Her favorite subject is English and her hobbies include reading, watching moving, and traveling when she can.  Her hopes to attend East Carolina University or Duke to study medicine and become a pediatric surgeon.  Raquel has been very active in the Fellows program.  She has attended two volunteer events, the NC State Chocolate Festival and the Fall Great Harvest Festival.  She is also a member of the WELL running club.  What she likes best about being in the program is "the support and help you get and having fun.  You get a whole new family." 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Welcome Back Fellows!!!

                                 Feeding goats at the Interfaith Food Teaching Farm 

The Fellows Program has been in full swing this school year.  We held a fellows orientation the first week of August for our 11 new sophomore fellows.  We were lucky to have Hargrave McElroy and Ellan Maynard come to speak to the fellows about Elizabeth and her role as a mother, advocate, and educator.  We also, as a group, volunteered at the Interfaith Food Teaching Farm.  

In August we also held a mentor training for 17 new mentors who were assigned to the new cohort of fellows as well as some junior and senior fellows.  These mentors mostly consist of college students and young professionals working in the area.    

Since the beginning of the school year, the fellows have been meeting with their mentors and participating in weekly meetings.    The senior fellows are busy completing their college applications.  We have visited East Carolina University and UNC Greensboro so far this fall, and plan to visit North Carolina A&T in November.   We have also participated in two other service activities-- one at NC State benefiting Breast Cancer Research, and one at the 2015 Fall Harvest Festival.  Finally, we have started a couple new programs for fellows and Wade Edwards Learning Lab (WELL) members.  The WELL Running Club helps train runners and walkers to complete a 5K in November.  The WELL Writing Lab helps students organize, construct, and edit their school papers and college essays.

                                                 Senior Fellows Visiting ECU!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Quarter Frenzy Fundraiser A Success!

Thank you to everyone who came to the Quarter Frenzy Fundraiser to benefit the Wade Edwards and Elizabeth Edwards Foundations.  We raised over $600 and had dozens of school supplies donated just in time for high school finals!  The money will go to providing resources and activities for the achievement of Wake County high school students.  We also want to thank the wonderful organizations who donated prizes for the auction.  These include:

The Durham Bulls
Empire Eats Restaurants
Massage Envy
Adventure Landing
Autobell Car Wash
Rocky Top Hospitality
Carolina Hurricanes
18 Seaboard

Thank you everyone for your generous contribution!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Fellows Go To Washington D.C.!

The Junior Elizabeth Edwards Fellows took a trip to Washington D.C. for Spring Break.   For many of us, it was the first time in our nation’s capital.  The trip was a great opportunity to learn about American history, politics, and the importance of social activism.  Although our feet were definitely tired by the end, we had a great time visiting the famous D.C. sites.  Read on to learn what we did!

Ty'Shae' at the Woolworth's Lunch Counter

We started the trip with a visit to the Smithsonian museums.  Some favorite exhibits included the Edgar Degas sculptors at the National Art Gallery and the Woolworth’s Lunch Counter at the American History Museum.   Of course everyone was excited to see Dorothy’s red slippers from the "Wizard of Oz" too!

 Meaghan, Mercedes, and Ahyanna go undercover at the Spy Museum

We learned what it takes to become a spy and complete a mission at the International Spy Museum.  The museum features the largest display of international espionage artifacts ever exhibited, as well as, details behind the history of espionage and its impact on important world events.  
Meaghan and Ms. Peabody at the Holocaust Museum

We were extremely fortunate to hear a first person account from a Holocaust survivor at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Ms. Halina Peabody was a Polish Jew who was forced to live in a ghetto with her mother and little sister after the Germans invaded the Soviet Union.  Her family survived the war by purchasing false papers declaring them to be Catholic.  This presentation was truly a one of a kind experience!     

The Fellows at the Kennedy Center

One of the fellows’ favorite activities was seeing the show “Shear Madness” at the Kennedy Center.  This comedic play allows audience members to participate as detectives to help the police solve the mystery surrounding a murder at the Shear Madness Hair Salon.
Ty'Shae' with the pandas at the National Zoo

Mercedes and Ahyanna paddle boating in the Tidal Basin

We had a great time seeing the animals at the National Zoo.  The highlight was seeing the adorable panda bears, Mei Ziang and Tian Tian.  We also had a lot of fun paddle boating around the Tidal Basin where we had a magnificent view of the Washington and Jefferson monuments

The Fellows at the White House

Of course no trip to D.C. is complete without a trip to the White House and Congress.  We were able to walk through the elaborate rooms in the East Wing of the White House, and take a tour of the Capital with its impressive rotunda and statues.  

The Fellows at Cantina Mexicana 

Lastly, you cannot go to D.C. without eating some amazing food.  We had dinner at Hard Times which features world famous chili and chili macs.  We also had some tasty Indian food at Merzi, and finished up the trip eating delicious desserts at Captain Cookie and the Milk Man. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Step-It-Up-2-Thrive: Helping fellows to reach their full potential

Thriving is defined, as “a forward, purposeful motion towards achieving one’s full potential.”  This idea is central to the Step-It-Up-2-Thrive curriculum created by the Thrive Foundation For Youth (  Using the curriculum, schools and youth organizations can help young people develop positive development skills and assets that will challenge them to evaluate their lives, yet support them in finding their place in the world. 

Step-It-Up-2-Thrive is made up of four important parts or stages of development.  The first stage is the identification of youths’ sparks or what they're passionate about. When youth develop and grow their sparks, they can drive their personal growth and thriving.  The second stage focuses on the idea of a growth mindset where skills, intelligences, and personality qualities can be developed.  This idea teaches young people that they can continue to learn and improve even when responding to challenges, by developing new strategies and asking for help.  The third stage has young people reflect on twelve indicators of thriving or skills they can develop to help them reach their full potential.   Finally, the fourth stage focuses on goal setting and management that grows one or more indicators of thriving. 

The sophomore fellows have been exploring the first and third stages from the curriculum.  They have identified their sparks and how spark champions can help them develop and grow those sparks.  They have also reflected on the six main domains of thriving indicators or the 6C’s.  Here are some of the ways the fellows have identified as ways to achieve the six thriving indicators.

Competence: developing healthy habits, love of learning, social skills and life skills
Character: being respectful, honest, dependable, and accountable, and living by your values
Confidence: developing persistence, resourcefulness, self-esteem, and pride
Caring: caring about family and friends, helping others, having compassion
Connection: developing positive relationships with friends, family, and mentors, and developing spiritual growth
Contribution: having a purpose, doing service, helping others, caring about your community 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Is National Mentoring Month!

January is National Mentoring Month.  We love our mentors at the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation! We are extremely lucky to have such devoted, caring individuals who have a passion for positive youth development.  National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors as well as how we can work together to increase the number of of mentors to assure positive outcomes for our young people.  Here at the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, we recognize the importance of mentors in impacting our fellows' lives.  Mentors serve as a personal support system and advocate for their fellow.  They provide key advice on academic issues, going to college, professional opportunities, and social and family life.  Together mentors and fellows develop tools and assets to be successful in high school, college, and beyond.  As one mentor puts it "I realize that many young people may lack stability and inspiration, or anyone to look up to.  Mentoring programs can serve as the connecting factor between youth who may feel lost or broken and adults who want to inspire them and build them up."  So if you have a mentor, be sure to thank them for being that inspiration in your life!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year's Welcome for New Elizabeth Fellows!

Welcome New Elizabeth Fellows!

We are so excited to welcome 11 new sophomore fellows and 3 new junior fellows into the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation.  Read on to learn a little bit about each fellow’s unique skills and goals.

Tianna Alston (Sophomore)- “I see myself as a determined student.  I hope that after finishing high school, I will be able to continue on to college.  Since I was five years old, I have wanted to be a nurse.  I love the thought of being able to help people in need.”

Mohammadi Amena (Sophomore)- “I am a hardworking student.  I always look for opportunities that are valuable for my future.  I want to go to college because it will create a better future for me.  I admire Malala Yousafzai, the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban.  It makes me realize how important education is for all people.”

Carlos Bautista (Sophomore)- “As a student, I would describe myself as a curious, motivated, trustworthy, and a hardworking pupil that wishes to contribute to his school and community by doing his best.  I enjoy learning because I am very curious, and enjoy learning concepts and principles that make the world function.”

Kerri Brodie (Sophomore)- “I love learning new things in areas that interest me like science, interior design, and child development. I would like to attend NC A&T on a full scholarship majoring in Child Development and Early Education.  I learn best by working hard and learning from my mistakes”

Sophia Caron (Sophomore)- “I really hope to go to NC State and eventually become an FBI agent.  I like the idea of helping the government and protecting people around me.  The two people that I admire most are my mom and grandmother.  My mom always tells me to give one hundred percent and never give up.”

Zahra Fatima (Sophomore)- “I hope to be a doctor when I grow up, because I am really interested in biology.  I also want to be a doctor, because I like to help people.  I think this field will make me happy.”

Ahyanna Griffith (Junior)- “As a student, I am enthusiastic, out-going, and a good learner.  I love learning because knowledge can give you experience to craft the person who you want to become.  One day, I do hope to go to college and study medicine.”

Ayesha Jaleel (Junior)- “I feel if I want to be successful, it’s important to constantly be making new goals, and setting the goals higher by working hard.  This summer, I would like to volunteer at REX hospital and work with people who are suffering from cancer.”

Kadiejatu Johnson (Sophomore)- “In my future career, I want to work with computers and do graphic design.  I developed my love of learning from my dad.  I definitely hope to go to college to advance my potential for working in the real world.”

Ty’sean Judd (Sophomore)- “The idea of expanding my mind on a daily basis inspires me.  Chemistry is by far my favorite subject.  My first choice for a career is play basketball, but I also think about doing something in chemistry.”

Ketsia Liteli (Junior)- “Ever since I was little, I found myself fascinated with the jobs of doctors and nurses.  Hospitals were seen as these busy centers brimming with people who, I thought, had an unimaginable amount of knowledge.  If I was going to be somebody, it would be somebody in the medical field.”

Samantha Messie (Sophomore)- “I do my best both inside and outside of school to ensure that I understand and can apply what I have been taught.  I do all I do in school just to achieve two goals: successfully finish college and begin a profession in which I excel and enjoy myself.”

Juan Reyes Ortiz (Sophomore)-“When I grow up, I want to be a professional soccer player.  I would also like to study in the fields of mythology and history.  I love learning about mythological creatures and gods as well as ancient civilizations.”

Cristian Tompkins (Sophomore)- “Right now I’m striving to be a nurse in a pediatric ward.  My children development class has made me realize my love for small children.  Every kid deserves a good childhood and I want to give that to a sick child.”