Luis Fortes, Age 24, Class of 2009
Since September 2014, Luis Fortes has been working with City Year, and is currently working as a national admissions coordinator. His work involves implementing a consistent process for identifying, selecting and placing diverse 17-24-year-olds to service in schools across the nation to keep students in school and on track.
“I live to inspire and motivate others to identify their passions and achieve their goals. I have dedicated most of my life to lending myself as a resource for youth to work towards their best future,” said Luis.
Luis believes in the power of young people, empathy, teamwork, excellence and inclusivity. When looking to start his career, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in admissions and found strong parallels between City Year's mission and foundation values, his own beliefs and what he learned at Crossroads.
“Crossroads prepared me by giving me years of leadership training which I often call on to take initiative in my role, but also showed me the importance of compassion within the work I do daily.”
Luis can frequently be found around Crossroads, lending his time, expertise and enthusiasm to our programming. We are honored to have Luis as a part of the Crossroads family, and sincerely value his dedication to helping young people rise above their challenges and reach their goals.
Justyne Collier, Age 23, Class of 2010
Justyne is currently working her first year as a full time 8th grade Language Arts teacher in Westwood, MA. She gives back daily by trying to inspire her students to learn that they are capable of amazing things, and through thoughtfulness and effort they can achieve their dreams. She has found that the district she works in is very high-achieving and pressure-filled. Justyne works closely with students to help them recognize that they are not defined by a grade on a report card.
By the time she was in 3rd grade, Justyne knew she wanted to be a teacher. “I was making my own tests and forcing my younger cousins to play school with me as the teacher. They thought it was torture but I loved it,” she said.
Her experience as a camper and counselor helped Justyne build the skills she needed to be successful.
“I feel so very lucky to have been both a Crossroads camper and counselor. As a camper, Crossroads took a quiet girl and showed her that it is okay to take risks, it is okay to speak your opinion and it is okay to fail because there are people who will pick you back up. As a counselor, Crossroads provided me with the opportunity to work with different children from all different walks of life. I learned how to deal with disagreements, how to keep a group of children entertained and I learned responsibility.”
“It is one thing to aspire to be something - it is another to go out there and become it,” said Justyne.
It is always a pleasure to hear about our young people achieving their dreams and making a positive impact in the world. We encourage paying-it-forward, and we are so inspired to hear how Justyne is doing just that.
Greta Zukauskaite, 23, Class of 2011
Greta is currently earning a master's of arts degree at King's College, London, studying geography. She is starting research for her dissertation that involves unpacking how London minority youth understand and conceptualize food, health and fitness through the lenses of social media. Her hope is for her research to help add to literature that helps the public and policymakers alike understand what factors contribute to youth conceptualizing ideas of health, fitness and the body.
Greta completed her undergraduate degree in public communication and was able to combine the practical skills of the field with her passion – the environment. Her education and professional experiences through internships in Washington, D.C. helped her understand that in order to be a credible professional in a field she was passionate about, she had to take her education a step further. That is when she made the choice to attend King's College and surround herself with scholars and educators that would shape and transform the next steps of her career.
“Crossroads was an essential part of growing up for me. I can't think of my childhood and early teen years without mentioning the organization,” said Greta. “My journey with Crossroads began as a way to develop my skills as a young leader and to have a place where I could apply those skills. It quickly turned into an experience where I became a part of a family that offered support, guidance, advice and lifelong friendship.”
Crossroads has had a lasting impact on Greta, with phrases such as “hold yourself to a higher standard,” and “build the future you wish to see,” replaying for her and reminding her to reach higher and work harder for her dreams.
Greta’s Crossroads family is inspired to see just how far her dreams and passions have taken her, and look forward to seeing where she goes from here.
Keveisha Robinson-Clark, 24, Class of 2010
Since 2014, Keveisha has been serving Boston (specifically Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Mattapan) as an outpatient clinician at Children's Services of Roxbury and a school-based clinician in two Boston Public Schools.
As an Apprentice at Crossroads, one of the campers who she had a close bond with told Keveisha, "all social workers lie."
“Prior to this statement, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. When the camper made this statement, I felt if I could change the perception of what it means to be a social worker, then I would be able to help people in my community,” said Keveisha.
Through the Apprentice program Keveisha was able to work with a variety of children from Massachusetts, broadening her horizons and opening her up to the lives some children live. She wanted to ensure that youth, especially youth from her community, had better experiences with social workers.
Crossroads is honored that we were able to help Keveisha find her passion and calling in life. As an Apprentice Keveisha made a difference in the lives of so many youth, and we know she will make a difference in the lives of countless more.
William Lodge II, 25, Class of 2009
Since April of 2015, William has worked as a research assistant for a public health survey research group at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research group assesses people’s attitudes in relationship to their knowledge, values and experiences on health and social policy issues, which provide insight into how well the health systems of various countries are meeting the needs and expectations of those countries' citizens. The data collected serves as a platform to begin critical/influential dialogues to change the health care systems of many middle-to-low income countries. This position fuels William’s passion of using data as a mechanism to create change.
William works on various projects focusing on countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Uganda, Somalia, Guinea Bissau and the United States of America. Unfortunately, he doesn’t visit most of the communities that he works with due to security reasons. Despite that challenge, the analysis that he conducts strengthens policy, which has a profound impact on many of the people's current healthcare systems.
“I've always been interested in international development research, particularly using research as a bridge to connect policy with people's daily reality,” he said. “The work that I am involved in gives me the opportunity to try to understand the health and social policy issues many people within these countries face and use that data/research as a platform to initiate reform.”
Crossroads provided William with mentors – teachers, writers, community mobilizers, activists and educators – who all wanted to give back. They all had the drive and passion to be a part of change – either at the micro or macro level.
“These mentors continue to inspire me because growing up they showed me that it's possible (but also necessary) to give back.”
William is proof that you can follow your passion and still give back. Data analysis may not seem to make a difference on the surface, but William shows just how wrong that assumption is. We are thrilled to hear that William is marrying his passions, and know that he is going to do amazing things.
Kayla Dias, age 24, Class of 2009
Kayla is a program manager at Let's Get Ready, a nonprofit college access program that employs and trains college students to help high school students apply to and prepare for college. She started working with Let's Get Ready in November, 2015, and oversees programs in Massachusetts (Roxbury, Brighton, Chelsea, Framingham, Brockton, Lowell, Revere and East Boston) and in Portland, Maine.
She was introduced to the college access world in graduate school, when she interned as a college counselor at a charter school in Cambridge, MA. Interested in adolescent identity development, particularly for youth of color, Kayla found that the college application process brings up some really hard questions for students: "Who am I? How do I demonstrate that to a stranger in a single essay? Where do I belong?” The questions are endless.
“I loved having these conversations with students, usually with students who were the first in their family to apply to college. Witnessing their growth from draft one of an essay to submitting a deposit to their school of choice was really amazing,” said Kayla.
Now she has the opportunity to work with young adults who are equally as enthused about working with incredible high school seniors, and play a role in their professional development as they explore careers in education, nonprofit management and much more.
Her many years (7+) as a youth participant with Crossroads influenced her greatly.
“[My time at Crossroads] sent me on a path of giving and serving young people in my community. As a high school student, I went on a college tour hosted by Crossroads that ultimately led me to apply to my alma mater. Beyond that, Crossroads gave me regular access to role models and generous adults who were invested in helping me pursue my goals and dreams. Without that example, I'm not sure I'd have the passion for what I do today.”
Because of Crossroads, Kayla feels she understands the value of a positive and dedicated mentor.
Kayla is coming full circle, helping others like her achieve their dreams of higher education. We’re thrilled that we were able to provide a space for Kayla to learn that about herself, and are incredibly touched and proud of the work she is doing today.
Cory A. Lewis, age 22, Class of 2012
Cory is serving his community by working at the Georgia Regional Hospital of as a member of Georgia Department of Behavioral Health. He is giving back to those individuals who are very sick, injured, have had rough times or are going through mental issues. He also participates in forensic psych evaluations.
He started about a year ago, and decided to join the field as soon as he graduated in 2012.
“I have been giving back to the community as far as being a part of C5, but my biggest motivation is because of my Sickle Cell Disease. Being in the hospital every month for weeks at a time growing up, C5 really has showed me that I have potential to do more,” said Cory.
He is striving still to this day to excel in the medical industry, giving back to everyone in need who is sick and needs help. He wants to be the helping hand, and make a difference.
“C5 prepared me by pushing me to the LIMIT, putting me in roles I never thought I could handle until then. Being a part of this program has really showed a lot about myself and the strength I had to keep going. Using these leadership skills and applying them to my everyday life has really opened up my eyes and has made me a better person.”