Sazzy Gourley

2012 Bridge Foundation Scholarship Recipient

As a teacher, my father always emphasized the importance of education; something I also take very seriously. As a recent graduate of Myers Park High School, I benefitted from the International Baccalaureate program’s international emphasis on education. These beginnings inspired me to begin work with The Echo Foundation, a local non-profit fighting injustice through education. As one of six Echo Student Ambassadors, we collectively raised over $22,000 for Echo’s Footsteps Global initiative to support the Nkondo Primary School in Rwinkwavu, Rwanda, where we taught English and helped build a library for the local community.

My experiences with Echo in non-profit management and fundraising taught me how to execute a vision, which had very specific applications to student government. As Student Body President, I worked to expand Myers Park’s partnership with Druid Hills Academy, a local at-risk school. Over the past two years, we’ve contributed over 4,000 books, 6500 school supplies, and run two volunteer tutoring programs at the school. Many students at Druid Hills never experienced such simple things as owning a book, or writing with a mechanical pencil before we initiated these drives. It’s through such activities that we are not only able to create relationships between the schools, but also inspire the students to learn and care about their education.

This spring, the MPHS Student Government spearheaded the first Charlotte-Mecklenburg Student Exchange. Five underclassmen from Myers Park and Garinger High Schools spent a “day in the life” together as student peers, exposing one another to the different learning and social communities within the district. There are so many stereotypes associated with both schools, from exclusivity to gang violence, but this experience helped break down those perspectives and bring together students that wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet. These projects, and so many new traditions, like organizing Myers Park’s first Homecoming Parade, Pep Rally, and Dance in 23 years, and the first ever Senior Carnival helped unite the school and surrounding community in ways that will hopefully create lasting bonds between students, teachers, and community members across the district.

As I prepare to enter Brown University in the fall, I would like to continue working for social and educational justice through the study of anthropology. At this point, I plan to focus on the urbanization and industrialization of developing nations. Eventually, I might work on behalf of the State Department to create and implement plans to help these countries grow sustainably—both economically and socially.

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