As a high school student in Brooklyn, New York, Briyana Henry ’20 participated in an afterschool enrichment program. Her mentor was a Syracuse University alumna and put the school on Henry’s radar.
Now as a Syracuse University senior, Henry is using that same afterschool program as the basis for her Capstone research project for the Renée Crown University Honors Program, which looks at the impact of afterschool programs on adolescents that come from urban neighborhoods. “I interviewed students, alumni, and staff to figure out how they perceived the program, the benefits of it, and what they could be doing better,” she says.
Henry’s found that staff associated the success of the program with providing students academic support, whereas students viewed staff more as emotional supports who were also helpful with their academics.
She says the research confirmed her own experiences. “I had some great opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have had without the program, which I feel is true for most of my fellow classmates,” she says. “Coming from our neighborhood, the opportunities and resources are limited. These kinds of programs allow students to get out of their neighborhoods and experience things.”
Henry is a social work major in the David B. Falk School of Sport and Human Dynamics. Since her first year at Syracuse University, she has been a member of the Kalabash Dance Troupe and served as captain this year. She’s also worked concessions at the Dome and at the Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service, first as a Literacy Corps tutor and the last three years as an intern in the transportation center, coordinating off-campus transport for volunteer experiences and student teaching placement.
Last year, Henry was named an Our Time Has Come Scholar. “The financial support definitely took some of the strain off me and my parents and also allowed me to study in London last summer,” she says. “The program has connected me with students outside my major that I probably would never have met and it’s wonderful having the additional support when I need it.” That includes counsel from OTHC alumnus Ronald James-Terry Taylor ’15, G’16, through the OTHC Mentorship Program.
Now back in Brooklyn finishing up her Syracuse coursework online, Henry is making plans for life after college. She’s applied to master’s programs in social work and also has been offered a Great Oaks Fellowship, a one-year teaching program at a Great Oaks charter school.
Regardless of how she chooses to spend the next year, she’s contemplating law school in her future. Before Syracuse University closed due to coronavirus, Henry was doing an internship through the School of Social Work at the Hiscock Legal Aid Society, working with inmates going out on parole on re-entry to the community.
“I’m thinking I could combine my social work background with a JD to continue this kind of work,” she says. “But my interests change over time, so depending on what I do next year, who knows?”