A senior at Frank Cody High School in Detroit when she joined Urban Alliance, Airreona knew she wanted to make something of her life and transcend what was expected of people in her community, but she didn’t know exactly what that future would look like.
During pre-work training, she remembers thinking: “I can’t wait to start work; I can’t wait to start getting paid.” So when she began her internship at Strategic Community Partners, a capacity-building firm for equity-promoting community organizations, she hit the ground running – all while working a second job at Little Caesar’s to help support her 11-member family. “I come from a big family and we depend on all of our checks including mine,” she said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Detroit especially hard, Airreona’s mother lost her job and it was even more important than ever for her to keep working both jobs, despite the risk. However, her UA employer found out and offered Airreona extra hours so she could quit her second job and quarantine at home with her family – a kindness that became even more important when Airreona and her family contracted the virus.
“When Strategic Community Partners offered me extra hours, it meant a lot because it ensured not only my safety but the safety of others,” said Airreona. “It really showed me that they cared and they took me into great consideration. I’m so grateful for their support and the support of the Alliance.”
Airreona and her family all recovered, and Airreona’s positivity and drive didn’t stop for a moment. Through it all, her employer Chanel Hampton said, she was “an amazing asset…creative and innovative and generative, and a pretty confident team player.”
Airreona was given the responsibility of running the organization’s social media channels, and even launched her own ‘Youth Community Conversations’ series on SCP’s Instagram channel, where she interviewed young leaders in the community – one of her proudest accomplishments this year and the inspiration for her new career path.
“Before Urban Alliance, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what I thought I wanted to do,” Airerona said, “and then when I joined Urban Alliance I started seeing all these different positions, all these different jobs, and stuff like that and my career path and choice has just been changed drastically.” Her work at Strategic Community Partners inspired her to study public relations and communications at Eastern Michigan University, where she is now a freshman.