I remember distinctly the moment when I saw that I’d been assigned to an Education Pioneers Fellowship project in Kansas City. Honestly, I had mixed feelings. The project was exactly what I wanted, but I was also apprehensive about spending my summer in Kansas City (KC). In retrospect, I was about to embark on some of the most inspiring work I’d ever done, but I didn’t know it at that time.
On June 1, I landed in KC with a lot of doubts. I didn’t know a single soul in the city or where I was going to live. Fortunately, I had a colleague at PREP-KC, a nonprofit organization where I would be working during my Fellowship, who really helped me find my place in the city.
I initially stayed at an Airbnb, but quickly realized it was essential for me to live close to work so I could walk there. I happened to meet two really friendly guys at the Airbnb that I was staying at, and they ended up being my roommates for the summer. After my first week, I settled into my new neighborhood and my new role.
My PREP-KC colleagues helped make life much easier. They often drove me to the grocery store or back home. One of them even loaned me a bike, which made getting around KC more convenient.
Details of moving to a new city aside, my Fellowship project with PREP-KC was some of the most inspiring and high-impact work I have done. PREP-KC, an organization that creates and implements strategies to improve college and career preparation, currently impacts over 14,000 high school students (primarily students of color) in the bi-state Kansas City area.
As a Fellow, I performed a cost-benefit analysis for PREP-KC’s initiatives to figure out the return on investment for every dollar put into programming. My work gave me the opportunity to interact with a lot of students, teachers, and community leaders as I delved deeper into my project.
While work kept me busy during the week, over the weekends I found time to visit and experience all that KC has to offer. From amazing barbeque to live jazz, and happening nightlife at the Power and Light District, it was a fulfilling summer. Also, with all the PokemonGo craze going on at the time, it was really easy to meet people and take long walks in the pursuit of that elusive Pokemon near KC’s center Plaza, which is usually abuzz with tourists.
As the summer drew to a close and I turned in my final project deliverable, I had built a lot of unforgettable memories. The amazing team at PREP-KC made it a memorable summer and provided me with ample support to complete my project well before my Fellowship ended.
I reluctantly said goodbye to the team as we finished the final day with a capstone workshop organized by EP which was again a great opportunity to meet other Fellows and organization leaders within KC. Looking back to my summer – I wouldn’t have done it any other way!
Dhruv Pandey is a 2016 Education Pioneers Alumnus. During his Fellowship, he served with PREP-KC, an organization that creates and implements strategies to improve college and career preparation, currently impacts over 14,000 high school students (primarily students of color) in the bi-state Kansas City area. PREP-KC called Dhruv’s contributions a “game changer” for their work.