We recently caught up with one of our former students, Briana Bursten, to find out what she is doing now and how our Student Service Program continues to enrich her life. Learn more about the King High graduate as she tells us about her life in New York City.
RNF: Tell us what you’re currently doing.
BB: I’m currently a first-year student at Barnard College, a women’s college that is a part of Columbia University in New York City. I am not sure of my major, but I am thinking about pursuing English with a concentration in Film. I don’t have to declare until the Spring semester of my sophomore year, so I still (luckily) have time to explore my academic interests. I am involved in a few organizations on campus. I am a daily editor for Bwog, which is Columbia’s independent, student-run campus news site. I am a DJ for WBAR (Barnard College free-form radio), and I have a show from 4-6 a.m. every Wednesday this semester. Even though it’s at a ridiculous hour, I really enjoy exploring new music and talking about topics that are of interest to me. While also being a member of Columbia Democrats, I am a copy editor for a lifestyle magazine on campus, and I have a weekly babysitting job. Later this semester, I plan to be a production assistant for a student film through the Columbia University Film Production Program.
RNF: How has your experience in the Student Service Program (SSP) prepared you for what you’re currently doing?
BB: I think the element of the SSP that I was (and continue to be) most grateful for was the program’s ability to not only foster an environment of collectiveness/teamwork but also that of individuality. Throughout my time in the SSP, I learned that the power of giving is a concept that is defined differently by each person. While collaboration and communication are both essential in order to evoke change, it is important to recognize each individual person’s talents and interests. Throughout last year, I was encouraged to express the power of giving through my interests (particularly journalism and video production), and this has been integral in helping me to decide the activities that I wish to pursue in college and professionally. In fact, this summer I am interning at a video production company in Tampa that I worked with last year while editing the SSP informational video for the “culminating project” of the program. I am so fortunate that the Ryan Nece Foundation is still able to provide me with opportunities to learn, grow, and impact my community.
RNF: What are your future plans and where does service/volunteerism factor into those plans?
BB: In the future, I would love to work in television production or in the documentary film industry. I would really like to be able to work on creative projects that raise awareness for important social issues as a way of combining my interests. Though my future career plans may change, I know that service and volunteerism will always be something that I incorporate into my life. While at school, I hope to work with an organization that encourages impoverished students in the city to express themselves through art and music. I look forward to building upon the skills and interests that were initially fostered by the Ryan Nece Foundation, and I am continually grateful for the people that I met and for the experiences that the SSP provided me with.
– Toiaya Crawford