A Year In Review: The Futures Initiative Undergraduate Leadership Program (2019-2020 Cohort)

By Lauren Melendez and Kashema Hutchinson (cross-posted on futuresinitiative.org) The Futures Initiative’s Undergraduate Leadership Program (ULP) supports CUNY undergraduate students who are learning to be leaders within their colleges and within their communities. The program, directed by Lauren Melendez, MSEd Director of the Undergraduate Leadership Program and Administrative Specialist of the Futures Initiative, and Co-Director Kashema Hutchinson, PhD candidate in Urban Education, believes great mentorship and leadership means representing and

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My Views on the Democratic Experiment

When I imagine democracy, I imagine a society free of exploitation and filled with equity. It’s hard to conceptualize this abstract concept. There is no system presently on earth that can come close to that. As far as I know, every society partakes in some form of inequity and exploitation whether consciously or not. Democracy is a system of government that created by the entire people in that system. The

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HASTAC 2019 Recap

Being part of the Futures Initiative program for the academic year of 2018 – 2019 will forever remain a monumental experience in my life. After participating in the Leadership Institute to start the program off, I was sure that I’d be presented with opportunities that would add value to my leadership qualities – but presenting at the HASTAC 2019 certainly exceeded my expectations! Following a stellar performance at the Hiphop

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Character Traits Through a Womanist Lens (Woman’s History Month edition)

Women’s History Month is a month that leaves me feeling very conflicted as a Black man raised by innovative, loving Black and Brown women. On one hand, I’m always down to celebrate women that resemble the women I saw growing up around my neighborhood: essentially women from the African diaspora who are survivors of slavery and colonialism. On the other hand, white women have been and continue to be responsible

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Hiphop Saved Lupe Fiasco’s and My Life: Hiphop Pedagogy Event Recap

His man called said, “your time might be now// They played your freestyle over ‘Wipe Me Down’// They played it two times said it might be crowned// As the best thing out the H-Town in a while”// He picked up his son with a great big smile// Rapped every single word to the newborn child// Then he put him down and went back to the kitchen// And put on another

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Defying All Odds: From Poverty to Mogul

If I were to tell you that a Black boy from the South Bronx would grow to obtain four consecutive inaugural fellowships spanning public policy, philanthropy, social innovation, and gun control advocacy, would you believe me? What if I told you that he accomplished all of this, and more, after spending a year behind bars? Well, that Black boy from The Bronx happens to be me. In the summer of

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Social Innovation, Drug Policy, and Philanthropic Opportunities

Peace, love, and light to all my fellow colleagues as we close out another challenging semester! However, this only designates that it’s time to get your extracurricular hustle on. If you have checked out any of my posts, you will see that I have some notable accolades to my name. Well, let me be the first to tell you that those accolades were a result of endless application submissions to

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Who’s my Leader?

I believe everyone come to this world with a purpose of being a leader intentionally or unintentionally. You become a leader with the time. It is a learning process which you learn everyday to be a better leader. My point is leaders are born with the purpose of leading but they are made with a lot of practice and time. Often times, we connect this idea of leadership with the power.

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What Would I Be without Ju?

Loving, loyal, consistent, and full of integrity: these are just a few of the character traits carried by Juwan Jackson. Juwan is my closest-friend-turned-brother. We’ve known each other since 1997, so we’ve grown together. Both of us hail from the Highbridge section of The Bronx, and no matter where we travel we have always considered it home. He is one person whom I respect, admire, and cherish like no other.

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From Highbridge to the United Kingdom: Steven Joins Future Leaders Connect

In 2016 I authored a blog post on the Prison Writes platform titled Life is a Rollercoaster: Stick Around for the Whole Ride. While my words in that blog are quite profound, I must admit I am even taken aback by the power of them. If you were to tell me that I’d be released from prison in August of 2014 and four years later I’d be selected as a

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