8 Questions w/ Cayla Barbour ’09

9113376 We’re helping you get to know our outstanding alumni, one spotlight at a time! In this installment of our new interview series, meet the ever-fabulous Cayla!

Tell us about you!
My name is Cayla Barbour and I am a 2009 MYL Alumna! I’ve been a Junior Facilitator, Junior Board of Directors Member, Make a Difference One Day Conference Co-Char, and Conference Planning Committee Member. I have been the Director of Programming for the MassSTAR Conference for the past 5 years and I love it!

How did you first become involved with the MYL foundation?
I first became involved with the MYL foundation as a the delegate from Coyle and Cassidy High School in the 2009 MassSTAR Conference. I stayed involved by attending the Alumni Association meetings and then applying for the roles I mentioned above as time went on.

What are you up to now?
I currently am interning at the City of Boston Law Department and will be going into my second year at New England Law | Boston this fall!

What emoji best reflects you? 
💃 – its a girl who loves to dance! she looks so E-WORD!

What’s your favorite point of the STAR?
Intentionality – As the Director of Programming, I try very hard to make sure every part of the MassSTAR conference has a purpose from the speakers and workshops to the theme to every cheer. In general, I always try to think critically of the purpose behind my decisions so that I can reflect on why I am making them and improve myself!

What’s your ideal superpower?
Teleportation – I love to travel and punctuality is not my strong suit so I could see the world without the hassle and get to places on time (maybe)!

What does citizenship mean to you?
Citizenship means being a member of the community. We are citizens of the communities we are in – school, town, state, world, etc – and our participation matters to make it great. Citizenship that is empowered to be active is a truly phenomenal force!

Do you have any advice for recent MYL Alumni?
Stay involved with your fellow alumni! At first it was a little difficult to travel to the alumni meetings, but thankfully the MYL community supported me in one small step of carpooling, and the rest of my experience has followed! MYL is like a family and we love to see our newest members at all of the alumni events and keeping in touch with the organization and each other.

MassSTAR 2016: Friday Recap

Well, it’s official — Day One of the 2016 MassSTAR Citizenship Conference is in the books! We had a blast getting to meet all of this year’s delegates this morning. Thank you to all of the families and supporters who helped with transportation to Lasell College. We know that many of you had a long drive, and we’re so glad you could join us! We’ll be posting nightly recaps of our day’s adventures, so join us as we relive today’s schedule.

Confluence
We don’t mess around — there’s no time like the present to start getting to know each other. Confluence is a grand MassSTAR tradition; it’s how we kickstart every conference, and it always gets us started on a high note.

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Keynote Speaker: Ashley Bendiksen
Ashley Bendiksen opened our programming by speaking with our delegates about overcoming adversity and looking inward to discover their inner leaders. “If you change your mindset to a positive one, if you believe you can do anything, all the other stuff will fall into place.” With Ashley’s help, we established the mental baseline from which to approach our growth throughout the rest of the weekend.

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Walk the Line
Our Director of Alumni Relations, Alex Gomez (MYL’10), led our first workshop of the weekend. Walk the Line helps our delegates to learn more about each other while preserving a safe space. Through the comfort of anonymity, delegates shared their honest feelings about their communities, their experiences, and their histories. During the debrief, Meg Geslin of Brockton High School shared the following observation: “I hope that we can look back and be proud of the world we made with each other.”

She Sells Sea Shells
Director of Programming Cayla Barbour (MYL’09) led our next workshop, which helped our delegates to explore their personal leadership styles. Each group was challenged to determine the number of seashells in a jar, and to negotiate with their peers to arrive at a group guess. In addition to building their communication skills, this workshop helped our delegates to address their reactions to situations with an uncertain answer. (And no — we still won’t tell you how many shells are in the jar.)

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Exploring the Communities We Build: The Ice Cream Game
The first rule of the ice cream game: you never talk about the ice cream game! Veteran facilitator Rosette Cataldo (MYL’87) leads this program every year. Delegates are challenged to share what they see — and learn just as much from everything they don’t see along the way.

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Vocal Revolution
To close out our first day, we explored making a new type of waves — this time, sound waves. Our delegates joined with local a cappella group Vocal Revolution to learn about how our voices can combine to create a sound that is greater than the sum of its part.

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Stay tuned tomorrow for another update!

MYL in Action: National History Day at Braintree High

lilyblog1by Lily Tang (MYL ’15)

As one of the recipients for the MYL Foundation’s Grant program, I have had the opportunity to pursue my goal for my school. My project is to bring National History Day into my school.

National History Day, or NHD for short, is a yearlong research project and history contest similar to science fair. In 1974, a history professor created NHD because he wanted to provide students with a different, more engaging, way to study and comprehend history- we can all agree that sometimes textbooks just drain all the life out of a subject. Today NHD has affiliations in all 50 states and internationally, too. Each year over half a million students, compete in the Regional, State and National level. NHD allows students to present their projects in different forms such as creating an exhibit, website, documentary, paper or as a performance.

Last year I worked with my school’s Director of Social Studies in order to create the History Club. I was able to recruit four other students to compete in NHD. Our team won first place in the South Shore Regional Contest and placed Honorable Mention in States. This year my goal was to expand the club by promoting it more and making students more aware that this opportunity exists. In addition to the publicity aspect of the club, I had to come up with a way to fund it. The cost of registration and the busses was a huge problem, as I did not want money to prevent students from participating in NHD. As such, I applied for the MYL Foundation’s Grant program.

This year our numbers have doubled and we had 10 participants in the club, and submitted 3 projects: 2 exhibit and 1 website. The Grant program made this year possible because it helped covered the registration cost for the Regional contest. Thanks to the MYL Foundation, our school succeed in the competition- our teams placed 1st and 3rd! It has been an amazing and fulfilling experience for me because first time NHD participants after the contest had came up to me and told me that it was “really fun” and that they would definitely continue it next year!

I am so grateful to the Grant program for giving me this opportunity to spread my love for history to others and to inspire them to create something amazing, too!

MYL in Action: The Power of Change Project

7939429_origBy Christi Lee (MYL ’15)

At the 2015 MassSTAR Citizenship Conference, I learned the importance of becoming a leader in my community to affect change. I returned home and wondered how I might promote social action in my hometown. First, I needed a cause to champion.

The issue of chil
dhood hunger has always left a poignant impression on me. Cooking is my hobby and passion, so I am never without food. I am always thinking about the next meal: what to prepare, how to present it, and how it will taste. For many of us, because we have never been without food, it is difficult imagining the pangs, weakness, and diminished mental capacity associated with hunger. When we envision hunger, we see faces in famine-stricken third world countries. Few of us recognize that hunger happens in our own neighborhoods. Realizing that we need to increase awareness of domestic hunger, I knew I had found my mission: a service initiative that would easily heighten awareness of hunger and be quickly impactful. Unlike cancer or natural-disaster victims, domestic hunger is invisible. Those who suffer from hunger hide it as they are too ashamed to seek help. With only spare change, we can immediately make an impact on the fight against hunger: one dollar provides three meals. No need to wait years for medical research to find a cure or raise thousands of dollars to provide emergency aid. MassSTAR urged delegates to step-up in their communities, and with the support of an MYL Citizenship Grant, I answered the call by taking action with my Power of Change project.

5566113_origPower of Change engages students to challenge others via social media to experience hunger by fasting for one day or alternatively, donating 50¢ (or more) to local food banks. To date, the campaign has raised almost $5,000 via collection of spare change, in-kind donations and grants. My website at http://www.power-of-change.weebly.com and Facebook page describe the fundraising fun. As a cross-community movement, Power of Change has the ability to collect a sizable amount while educating many youths about hunger statistics: 1 in 9 people in Eastern Massachusetts is food insecure and 125,000 children are at risk (across the US, nearly 17 million children are at risk of hunger). Students see the ‘power of change’ as each coin they give feeds hungry families. Teens can be proud that they have made a valuable contribution and enabled social change.

Putting my ideas into action was a daunting task, but the results have been rewarding: not only is there mass participation by teens across the state in supporting hunger, but also so many of us are learning how to become social activists. To launch Power of Change in schools other than my own, I leveraged my social network and reached out to MYL alumni delegates too. I asked for help in bringing Power of Change to their schools. Together, we proved that teens can make a difference. A little change goes a long way as Power of Change provides almost 15,000 meals from youth support. I urge all students to inspire change in our communities. Take the skills that you acquire at MassSTAR, identify a cause, apply for an MYL grant and become citizen-leaders!

[ VISIT THE POWER OF CHANGE ONLINE: website | facebook ]

MYL in Action: ProjectNextGeneration.com

By Katie Curran (MYL ’14)

I started Project Next Generation with a burning desire to make a difference in the world.  I wanted to promote diversity and a global outlook in my community.  The organization began with the power of people motivated to change the world for the better.  As a social entrepreneur, I wanted to invest in my generation.  

My biggest advice to young people is that you are never too young to create change.  No excuses!  Leading Project Next Generation has been the most inspiring and rewarding experience of my life.  PNG means a lot to me because I promote cross-cultural understanding and collaborate with fascinating individuals.  

One of the best feelings is receiving positive reinforcement.  I am thankful for MassSTAR and the Massachusetts Youth Leadership Foundation for their constant source of encouragement.  When I hear positive feedback about my service, I feel energized.  When I was 15, I completed an exchange in Copenhagen, Denmark.  When my Danish family sends warm wishes, I know that my work is amplifying the youth voice worldwide!  Share with others the work you are doing.  Be proud and bold!  

PNG has allowed me to see the world from a unique perspective.  In February 2016, I traveled to the United Arab Emirates.  I met young world changers from over 50 countries.  I am so thankful for the meaningful conversations I had with high school students from Vietnam to Bosnia.  As I climbed sand dunes, rode a camel and visited a mosque in the UAE, I found myself appreciating every cross-cultural encounter.  Moreover, I represented my organization in Davos, Switzerland, home of the World Economic Forum.  It was especially empowering to discuss youth engagement right where international policy makers convene to address the world’s most pressing issues.  

A large component of Project Next Generation is advocacy.  I share my work with international leaders to encourage the inclusion of youth in government.  In 2013, I met President Bill Clinton and spoke with Chelsea Clinton about global health and youth engagement.  Three years later, I found myself crossing paths with the Clinton family again during the 2016 New Hampshire Primary.  I spoke with Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton.  I shared my goal to run for public office one day with Hillary Clinton and she replied, “I hope to break the glass ceiling for you!”  This moment of empowerment reaffirmed that no matter what obstacles come my way, I will never stop dreaming and achieving.  

Community service and volunteerism are integral to who I am.  I find meaning making a difference in the lives of others.  I cannot wait to see where Project Next Generation will be next as it grows and explores the world around us!  

[ VISIT PROJECTNEXTGENERATION ONLINE: website | facebook ]