Sanjana Liliah

DOE Intern, Spring 2021

    My most valuable experience at RICH was the real-world experience I received in this internship. I had the chance to see what having a real job would be like and how to talk to people in a professional setting. Additionally, I was able to develop my Excel skills and become more proficient using the pla...tform. What I Learned During My Remote Internship at the RICH Organization: Reach Into Cultural Heights, Inc. (RICH) utilizes four principles to support their students and spurs them to respect not only themselves, but others as well. The four RICH principles are: I Matter, I Am Responsible for My Behavior, I Am Considerate of My Classmates, and I Use Thinking Strategies for School and Life Success. The program, Reach For Success, which was founded in 1991, guides students using these principles to reach their goals. Today RICH's digital platform offers the Reach For Success program using Google Classroom, where it provides cultural diversity projects and offers podcasts and video recordings to reinforce the 4 RICH guiding principles. These principles that never lose importance, no matter if they were used in 1991 or 2021, are incredibly beneficial for the youth to grasp, blend into their daily lives, and continue to use even after leaving the program.

    Each RICH principle is important and useful for students. The principle I Matter teaches students resilience and reminds them to maintain a positive attitude. It is important for students to believe in themselves and retain a positive mindset when thinking of themselves or the goals and aspirations they have. If they constantly doubt themselves or don’t think they can succeed, it will bring down their self-esteem and motivation in school along with other aspects of their lives. I Am Responsible for My Behavior encourages students to put forth more effort in order to improve their self-management skills. It teaches them accountability and to “own up” to the consequences and results of their choices. Acknowledging where you went wrong or your part or contribution to an unfavorable outcome is the first step in decreasing the chances of it happening again. Additionally, I Am Considerate of My Classmates guides students to improve relationships with their peers and the people around them. This principle enables them to practice teamwork and be comfortable working with others. Lastly, the principle I Use Thinking Strategies for School and Life Success empowers students to cultivate achievable goals that demonstrate the learning styles that best fit them individually. Every student has different methods that most accurately work for them and allows them to absorb information in the most effective way.

    Although these principles were initially created in 1991, almost 30 years ago, they are just as important and effective now. One of the first graduates from the RICH program, Chrisann Anderson, conveyed how much the I Matter principle has helped her in many points of her life, “I was able to learn that ‘I matter’ and that statement has helped me along my journey from a young girl who faced challenges of finding herself, to a strong hard-working young individual who has remained humble and truly understands the importance of believing in myself. I used to have low self-esteem and struggle with expressing myself. But, now I am much more confident in myself and find myself encouraging others to believe in themselves and never think their words are unimportant” (Anderson, “First Graduates,” 2017). The principle I Matter helped to not only improve Chrisann’s self-esteem, but also her motivation and drive, as well as how she regards others. The use of the I Am Considerate of My Classmates principle is exemplified by Nadia Adram with, “This RICH program helped me because I made new friends, new connections with old friends, and stronger bonds” (Adram, “Graduate Testimonials,” 2016).

    In addition to self-esteem and motivation, the 4 RICH guiding principles provenly betters previous relations with other students and pave the way for new relations to begin. Krystal contributes an instance that is both academic and social with the principle I Am Responsible for My Behavior, “This principle teaches me that I should always put a lot of effort into my work and always go higher than what you are supposed to do. This principle teaches me to always try my best. It also teaches me to never give up on my family and my future ahead” (Coskun, “Dear Cardiss Collins,” Spring 2014). This principle inspires students to put more effort and energy into their work to make it the best it can be. Ian Karim portrays how the I Use Thinking Strategies for School and Life Success principle has benefitted him in an academic setting, “I use the principles in school when I get stuck on a problem. I think of the R.I.C.H. principle ‘use thinking strategies for school and life success’ and I look at the charts that my teacher has that can help me answer the question. I use the acronyms like R.A.P.S and T.D.D.C. When I used these acronyms, it organized my response and I got full points on all my statements” (Karim, “Dear Alice Coachman,” Spring 2016). These principles assist students in remembering to use charts and think through the methods to answer questions instead of giving up if they have trouble with a question.

    All these examples have spanned over time from the early start of the program to now, nearly three decades later, and they all showcase the way in which the 4 RICH guiding principles uplift the young students in the Reach for Success program, leading them to live better lives. These principles are timeless and always leave a beneficial impact on the youth that learn and grow with them. They inspire children to believe in themselves, create and follow their goals, look out for their peers, and find accountability in what they do. These fundamental principles will continue to be an integral part of the RICH graduates’ lives and are important to instill in the new generations. They never cease to be effective or helpful, whether you’re in school, the workplace, or just your regular daily life.

    My internship with RICH has been a wonderful experience. I’ve been exposed to these four guiding principles that are now always in the back of my mind. After reading RICH students’ first-hand accounts on using these principles, I’ve seen them being used in a plethora of ways, and as a result, I have a better understanding of them. For instance, one student talked about their shift in understanding the principle I Matter from prioritizing mattering to others around them to mattering to themselves first, and I think that’s an important distinction. I Matter reminds you to put yourself first and keep in mind your worth. The principle I Use Thinking Strategies for School and Life Success has been very helpful in this internship when I was doing a task that I ran into some issues with. It reminded me to think of different ways to accomplish the task such as watching a YouTube video versus reading an article or using an app to find new ideas instead of relying on your thoughts alone. This principle will continue to be helpful when I start college in the Fall as well by further instilling the concept of determination and creativity in me when I may encounter obstacles in a project, paper, or any other aspect of college life.

    Furthermore, the principle I Am Responsible for My Behavior encourages me to continue my work and never give up. I’m responsible for a bad grade I may get on an assignment because I didn’t give my all, or I’m responsible for missing out on an opportunity because I didn’t submit something on time, and more. On a more positive note, I am responsible for and I should take pride in, the good work I’ve done, the new skills learned, and the money earned in this internship. Responsibility urges you to pay attention to the consequences or results of your actions, whether they are positive or negative. The principle I Am Considerate of My Classmates encourages me to always be kind to my peers and teachers.

    In these times we are all struggling, and if you’re put into a breakout room with your peers, you may be inclined to not talk to them, but even if it’s for a minute, you should. Other than family members, I don’t often speak verbally to my friends and it’s important that we talk to people and maybe ask them how their day was, because it may make their day and make them feel much better. This extends to teachers who mostly stare at blank screens full of names for the majority of their days. A simple good afternoon message in the chatbox, unmuting to speak to them, or even turning your camera on can make them, and your classmates feel much more comfortable.

Natalie Teekaram, RICH Graduate

RICH’s "I matter" principle has allowed me to find confidence in both my business and in my personal life. I established my business in June 2020 and focus on creating luxury chocolate-covered strawberries fit for events and moments worth celebrating. My business started to take off, I was getting bookings for every day of the week. Creating smiles and memories with my work has shown me that not only was I feeding people's stomachs but I was feeding their hearts. Although "I matter" was something I always knew about myself, when I started to hear it from others in terms of my business, it was unbelievable how proud of myself I became. Keeping "I matter" in mind made it easier for me to grow healthier because I could never lose sight of what held significance: making sure I was keeping safe from covid, surrounding myself with positive people, and remembering my self-worth.

Nathaly Rodriguez, RICH Graduate

The RICH program has helped me a lot all throughout the year that I’ve been here and I hope it will do the same to others in the future. For example, when I first entered the doors of the RICH program, I was shy and very nervous for a reason that I can’t explain. However, as it’s the end of the year of the RICH program, I am very sad and feel like crying because I may not see Kayla and Dr. Dawson ever again. Although Imani has a Youtube channel, it won’t be the same as seeing them in person. But because of my wonderful mentors, I’m proud to say that I’m no longer shy and nervous around others. I’ll truly and deeply miss the RICH program and it’s ways in teaching me on how I matter.

Sabra Jayce Carter, RICH Graduate

I really like the “Reach for Success” program because it gives you confidence and I like working with my friends. It’s fun to share what we’re thinking. I also really love snack time. So I think it’s fun to go through the RICH program.

Arlenis Hernandez, RICH Graduate

The Reach for Success program has helped me be more confident and believe in myself, despite how I bleak things seem. At times where I doubted myself, I was reminded of the RICH program and I picked myself back up. Without noticing it, I slowly gained the confidence in myself and I believed that I could. I would recommend others to the RICH program because it helped me tremendously, and without it, I would stay shy and insecure about my appearance and personality. Yet now, I’m not afraid to be me. The RICH program helped me be uncontrollably me.

Parbatti Boodhoo, RICH Graduate

The RICH program has helped in so many ways. It has made me more confident with my personal and school life. It has also helped me to get better grades. I love how the RICH program has benefited me my life. If I continue this program, it will help me a lot in middle school. To conclude, the RICH program has helped me so much.

Kritika Lalli, RICH Graduate

RICH helped me understand how to use their principles in school and outside because it can show me how to be respectful to others and now I can use it in daily life I recommend the “Reach for Success” program because it is nice and I can learn a lot of things in a fun way, even when I get older. The program is nice and it is a good way to work on Saturday and learn something instead of being home and be bored. In conclusion, that is how the “Reach for Success” program is an amazing project.

Sage Rajkumar, RICH Graduate

Before the RICH program, I was this person who was bad at writing, and didn’t believe that I could do well. The first day I came here I thought this wasn’t going to benefit me, but I got used to it and I kept it with me. My first semester I got all threes. A year later I got a four. Thanks to the reflective writing, it made me express myself and feelings and improved. So thank you RICH and Dr. Dawson.

Nadia Adram, RICH Graduate

This RICH program helped me because I made new friends, new connections with old friends, and stronger bonds. I’ve learned a lot of new things and I am happy to say that this program is very touching. Partnering with the Peace Run, I believe this program will make a large difference in the world. So as you can see, this program helped not only me, but all my friends and all those kids around the world.