Alum of the month: Noelle Cumberbatch
Tell us About Your Mikva Experience?
In high school, Mikva was my life. In fact, part of the reason I am who I am today is because of Mikva Challenge and their various programs. I started off high school as a self-absorbed, annoying teenager who wanted to graduate in 3 years. I did not like the school I was at, Alcott College Prep, and I made sure everyone around me knew it.
However, that changed when I joined the Mikva Club at my school and it exposed me to ideas such as student voice and self-empowerment. I started to believe that my fellow students and I could change and improve our school. Then, the leadership itch began. I became inspired to help others and Mikva sparked my drive to help my community. We changed the uniform policy at our school and for the first time in the history of our school (Alcott College Prep) students were involved in the principal selection process! The Mikva Club changed not only me, but deeply impacted the culture and climate of our school.
What programs were you involved with at Mikva?
I got involved with Mikva Challenge my sophomore year at Alcott College Prep, when my teacher, Ms. Van, started a Mikva Club there. I stayed involved with the Club all through my high school years and by the end of it we had truly brought youth voice to a number of school issues.
But my involvement with Mikva Challenge did not end there. I also joined the Teen Health Council, served as an election judge, participated in the Project Soapbox competition, and in my senior year summer interned at an elected officials office. Being at Mikva, there was always so much to learn that I took up every opportunity I got. This summer, I came back to Mikva as an summer intern to polish my facilitation and leadership skills.
What are you doing now?
I’ll be a sophomore at UCLA studying Political Science and Sociology. Through Mikva first and now my college experiences, I’ve become more interested in African American history and the issues of race in our country. After college, I’m thinking of working with city government or a nonprofit that works on issues I care about.
How has your experience as a Mikva Challenge youth informed who you are today?
I’m a better, more informed, and a more mature person today because of Mikva Challenge. It has personally helped me shape and grow in all aspects of life, but especially in my confidence and my leadership skills. I keep coming back to Mikva because I know with all my confidence that I will always benefit from my experiences here. I never believed in youth voice and youth empowerment until I saw it in action in my school and in my work with the Teen Health Council through Mikva Challenge.