Valerie, 16 – Funded

Location: Miami, Florida

Valerie Joseph may only be 16, but the junior at Booker T. Washington Senior High School in Miami has accomplished an impressive list of things during the past school year including an internship, international travel, and nonprofit work. She’s currently focusing on continuing her community involvement; graduating with a 3.5 GPA or higher; and acing her ACT and SAT tests, with future goals of getting accepted into her list of dream colleges and pursuing a degree in graphic design, computer programming/engineering, or environmental science.

What is something you are most proud of?

I’m mostly proud of all the accomplishments I have achieved so far this year including my first internship at Florida International University this past summer. I was also part of The United Way of Miami-Dade and had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic, which was my first time out the country! I also created a nonprofit organization called Gentrification Generation with the program KOC (Knowledge of Careers) to help combat gentrification in my local neighborhood of Wynwood.

Have you gone through any tough or challenging times? If yes, how did you deal with those challenges?

Yes, there have been times in my life that were pretty tough and challenging. And, although I felt discouraged, I didn’t stop or give up on myself through the grace of God, patience, and prayers. These challenges helped me become who I am today.

What does it mean to you to be selected as a Girl on the Rise?

Being selected as a Girl on the Rise is such a blessing, especially with the assistance to visit a college out of state.

What inspired you to want to be involved with Girls on the Rise?

My amazing big sister Ketsia from Big Brothers Big Sisters told me about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When she explained it to me, I just couldn’t let the chance go to waste without getting more information.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals? In other words: Why is the opportunity to visit your prospective colleges important to your journey?

This is a very important opportunity for me, especially since the college I’d like to attend is out of state. Without this funding, I probably wouldn’t have the chance to visit one of my dream schools before graduating high school since they are so far from Florida. This will give me the chance to actually see the campus in person and see what the surrounding city is like.

What schools will you use the funding to visit, and why?

One of the schools I’d really like to visit is NCAT (North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University) which is a highly ranked school for the careers I’m interested in — including graphic design, computer programming/engineering, and environmental science. Visiting a historic school such as NCAT would be an honor.