Andrea Finds Her Voice

KIPP STEP Part 2 – Student Reflections

This is a guest post from Andrea, a student at TEAM Academy in Newark, NJ and participant of the KIPP STEP Summer Program at Deerfield Academy this summer.

From my first step into the dorms, to my first class, I knew that the days to come wouldn’t be easy. They were going to be filled with rigorous classes, new challenges, new people, and a whole new environment. I wasn’t sure that I was as smart as everyone else or if there were going to be cliques that determined my social status. However, this wasn’t the case at all. When I first stepped into my dorm I felt welcomed, safe, and at home.

The students and proctors were more than happy to help me feel comfortable or help with any problem I had. Later on, in the classrooms, I didn’t have that sense of insecurity because the teachers told me that “there are no wrong answers” and that they cared about “ideas over answers.” The classes, the people, and the unity and family that we became are what I enjoyed most about KIPP STEP.

In English class, the most important way for me to start learning was to speak up. I was afraid that my ideas would be considered stupid or dumb and my questions would be dismissed by everyone else. I felt so insecure and didn’t participate in the discussions. However, during the second week of the program, I decided to speak because my ideas might help the class. Later written by Mr. Scandling, “I had found my voice.” Gradually, I began to speaking up more, questioning people more often. It was amazing, being able to share my ideas and they actually meant something and people built upon them. I loved it and it made me confident in myself.

I never imagined that I’d make so many close friends in three weeks. There were people from different parts of the country who came from different backgrounds. Their perspective on different things made classes, activities, and being at Deerfield Academy so much fun. I met people from North Carolina and California. My friend, Karina, was from Texas, but she didn’t have a Texas accent. She was from El Salvador and she is the first person I’ve met from El Salvador and Texas. The diversity of people made me more aware of the world and how we all are unique, but still one.


Family can be created wherever you go and you don’t really think it can be made in just three weeks. When I first came to Deerfield, I didn’t know anyone besides Nadir, the person from my KIPP school. I felt alone and insecure. However, as I slowly got to know everyone, we became the best of friends. We slept in the same dorm, ate all our meals together and had our classes together, so we were like a big family. We even created nicknames for each other.

In the end, I believe and know that those three weeks of classes, meeting new people, and becoming a family were some of the best days of my life. I’ll never forget them. I didn’t realize how much my friends meant to me until we had to part ways and I think it’s what will keep us together. Our journey has taken us to new heights and places and I’ll hold dear to me for the rest of my life.

Click here to learn more about KIPP STEP.

Click here to view a video slideshow of the KIPP STEP summer.

If you are a KIPP teacher and interested in being a part of KIPP STEP staff, contact Coral Taylor at the KIPP Foundation for more information.