Creating the Next Generation of Leaders through Quality Academic Instruction and Cultural Immersion
When Jeff Robinson (MPA-PNP) learned that he could use his former experiences inside the classroom to eliminate learning loss and create a pipeline for student success from middle school to high school in his hometown, he knew he had the opportunity to combine his passion with action.
Shortly after earning his bachelor of science in kinesiology from the University of Maryland, Jeff worked with the Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, the charter school that coordinates Prep@Collegiate, an intensive summer program for highly motivated young, male scholars with a mission of ensuring the highest quality of academic instruction. As an AmeriCorps member, he was responsible for student tutoring and advising, coaching the school's football team, and assisting the dean of students. Jeff also assisted the director of operations with the growth and oversight of the first charter school in the city to exclusively serve boys with a continuous academic program from grades four through eight.
“When I first started working with the Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, I had an epiphany: Education was where I wanted to be,” Jeff said. “Growing up I didn’t have a role model and had to learn a lot on my own. Working with youth in Baltimore, I feel like I can help them bypass a lot of the obstacles faced by young men of color.”
Jeff’s experience leading operations and programming helped him realize that he wanted to find a balance between managerial duties and direct service, so he enrolled in NYU Wagner’s MPA – Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy degree program with a specialization in management and leadership.
“I knew I wanted to transition into a managerial role,” Jeff said. He received a scholarship to attend NYU Wagner and decided to pursue the skills that would provide the foundation he needed to lead operations for a nonprofit organization.
Through the NYU Wagner Ellen Schall Experience Fund, Jeff spent his summer working full-time with Prep@Collegiate designing and coordinating cultural enrichment activities that took place after students completed their academic requirements. Throughout the summer, he managed the hiring and onboarding of the summer fellows, undergraduate students who served as mentors, advisors, and counselors for the Prep@Collegiate program participants.
One of the most enriching parts of his experience was enacting the first Prep@Collegiate “crews.” The crew system allowed students to work together to create competition and keep students engaged throughout the day. The point-based structure allowed students to foster relationships with those they didn’t know and create companionship throughout the summer.
“It’s always a rewarding experience to see my students’ growth,” Jeff recalled. “During the farewell ceremony, I received a standing ovation from the students, parents, and staff—reminding me that my efforts didn’t go unnoticed.”
In the interim, Jeff works as a program manager with iMentor, a volunteer mentoring organization that prepares high school students for college success.
“My end goal is to return to Baltimore because that is where I feel most connected with my students,” Jeff said. “I plan to use my experiences with the Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys and my skills from NYU Wagner to build a nonprofit organization that provides service learning opportunities for youth to travel outside of their cities and local areas to expose them to new perspectives.”
Each year, NYU Wagner’s Ellen Schall Experience Fund awards students with stipends to take on unpaid public service summer internships. This allows them to explore professional opportunities to achieve their career goals, regardless of compensation or financial need. In addition, awardees participate in professional development events throughout the summer.