group racial equity organizations partner

Summer of Learning by Imani Bryant

A few months ago, on the eve of my twentieth birthday, I set goals for myself. These goals – ranging from becoming fluent in Spanish to gaining my PhD before I turn 30 – will be my guiding principles for the next decade of my life. In only a few short weeks, I will begin my junior year at Howard University, marking the halfway point in my undergraduate career. With all this in mind, I dubbed this a time of learning and self-discovery. 

The last few years have been transitory for me. I entered college in the fall of 2017 with a plan I had been following my entire life. I was going to become a politician and change the world as President of the United States. However, I no longer feel that path suits me, especially considering the dramatic change in my politics during my freshman year. So, my sophomore year, I wandered aimlessly. Without a path to guide my life, I felt lost and insecure. So, when the school year ended, I vowed to make this summer – and my 20s – a time to forge a new path. Enter Natasha Harrison and Pharlone Toussaint, two of the most dynamic women I have ever had the privilege of knowing. 

Over the last few months of this internship, I have had the pleasure of working under both Natasha and Pharlone in various facets. From the THRIVE Thomasville Heights initiative to revamping the Audacity website to calendar management to research and development,  I have gained new experiences and skills to add to my repertoire. However, the greatest gift they have given me this summer is respect and autonomy. This, being only my second internship, I didn’t know what to expect at first. At our orientation meeting, Natasha and Pharlone gave me a list of assignments and their expectations, but I was anxious about what this summer would hold. However, as I became more comfortable in my role, it became very clear to me that this wouldn’t be a traditional internship. I wasn’t micromanged or given meaningless filler tasks. I felt like I was actually contributing something meaningful to CommunityBuild Ventures, Audacity, and the Atlanta community. Ultimately, this sense of purpose freed me and allowed me to fulfill my original goal of learning and self-discovery. This summer internship helped me understand that my highest purpose in life is to serve the Black community, and though I already knew this when this summer began, I now know I am destined to bring knowledge into the community and to inspire generations of activists and thinkers.

As I transition into the next phase of my life, this summer and this internship will be a defining period for me. I have gained confidence and purpose, and as I forge my new path, I take with me the example Natasha and Pharlone have set. There is power in purpose, and that power will allow me to live in the most authentic way possible. 

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