There is no doubt that Madison Blake ’22 is a go-getter. “When I put my mind to something I have to get it done. It just needs to get done,” she said.
Prompted by discussions she had with peers about the need for more connections with each other and mentors who understood the experience of being a student of color at a predominantly white institution, Blake had wanted to take action since she was in ninth grade. “I wanted to create an extremely important program for the people of color (POC) at Masters so we have places to talk about this and so that we know that we’re worth something.”
That is how S.C.E.E.M. (Students of Color Empowering Excellence and Mentorship), a mentorship program designed specifically to support students of color at Masters, was born.
Blake enlisted the help of her best friend Caleb Jakes ’22. “The main thing that drove me to co-found the program was because of the need for it in our own community and the amount of people I heard mentioning a program similar to this and how it would help students of color,” said Jakes.
The program’s goals include strengthening the bond between students and alumnae/i of color, helping to build a more diverse, inclusive and equitable Masters, and providing students of color with leadership and confidence-building skills needed to succeed in the world.
With the oversight of faculty advisor Shelly Kaye, Blake and Jakes did their homework: meeting with school leadership, reaching out to alumnae/i and sending out social media surveys to peers. “We got a lot of responses from former students who wished they had this program when they attended the School,” added Blake.
More than 30 alumnae/i have already shown interest in becoming mentors in fields ranging from literary arts and banking to marketing, sports and fashion. “S.C.E.E.M. is a really important program and I am encouraged by the hard work of Caleb and Maddy. I am looking forward to seeing it grow and supporting our alumnae/i and students of color,” said Sujata Jaggi, alumni engagement director.
An aspiring F.B.I. profiler or lawyer, Blake is thrilled with the positive response and wants to ultimately be “a role model for the girls at the school who look like me.” With that in mind, she and Jakes have set long term goals for S.C.E.E.M. as well. “We want to make sure this program isn’t just a year of 2020 thing that two kids started, that it’s kept on for years after we’re gone,” said Blake.
Kaye has been nothing but impressed with their passion, perseverance and resilience. “I believe this has been and will continue to be an opportunity for growth for me and the students. I feel truly blessed that they asked me to be a part of the journey with them,” she said.