Promoter of Peace: Shaneen from Chicago

buildOn Senior Service Superlatives: Promoter of Peace
Shaneen Bryant, Team Englewood Academy, Chicago

buildOn Senior Service Superlatives showcase some of the standout seniors from the buildOn Class of 2015. With 92% of buildOn students graduating and going on to college with more than 150,000 hours of service contributed, we have a lot to celebrate this year!


Shaneen Bryant gets along with just about everyone in her South Side Chicago neighborhood. The graduating senior at Chicago’ TEAM Englewood Academy is always looking out for others, talks to everyone, and her friends call her the ‘mama’ of their group.

Even with her peaceful disposition, Shaneen still has to face the violent reality of her own neighborhood. Englewood currently ranks the third most violent in Chicago with a murder rate ten times higher than other neighborhoods. The violence has affected members of Shaneen’s own family and she knows that nobody is immune to it.

“I don’t gangbang and I get along with everyone, but I still won’t go down certain blocks, and there are certain times I won’t go outside.” Shaneen says. “There’s just too much bad going on.”

When Shaneen started high school at TEAM Englewood four years ago, she hoped the school would be a refuge from the neighborhood violence outside, but what she found disappointed her. Girls were joining or claiming affiliation with gangs, and fights among female students were breaking out regularly.

Her first two years of high school, Shaneen didn’t feel there was much she could do to stop the conflict and violence in her school. But when “Miss Kim,” TEAM Englewood buildOn program coordinator Kim Townsend, started organizing student service Shaneen’s junior year, she saw an opportunity to take action. She started coming to buildOn service and approached Kim with the idea for a “Ladies Day” that would bring girls together to share an open dialogue and work on mediating conflicts.

With guidance from Miss Kim, Shaneen went to work giving presentations to teachers and administrators and organizing other students to help. She put together a program for the day, lined up local women leaders to speak and moderate discussions, and made invitations for her fellow students.


This graduation season, show your #GRADitude for buildOn by investing in future graduates like Shaneen.



Her hard work and service led to an incredible day that brought together 120 young women to have an open discussion about topics like relationships, mental health and conflict resolution. The students also learned basic yoga and meditation techniques to help them control their anger. The result has been a more united student body with only one “girl fight” at TEAM this year.

“I started to notice a difference in the way people were treating each other. Girls who are usually fighting with each other were talking to each other,” Shaneen says. “Now senior year, everybody is cool with each other. We’re together. We don’t fight. It’s something I want to see continue for the younger girls at the school.”

Shaneen’s buildOn program coordinator has seen the impact as well. “I received a message a couple of days after the event from one of the girls,” Kim explains. “She said that she had been in a fight, but she used the meditation techniques that she learned at Ladies Day to help her calm down.”

Shaneen knows the pressure to join gangs is still a strong force in her school, but she sees buildOn as something positive that can counter that negative peer pressure.

“Instead of bragging about the wrong they’re doing, (buildOn students) are bragging about how many service hours they’ve done and others want to do that,” Shaneen says. “When I first started doing buildOn we went to the senior center. I came back and told my friends how fun it was, and soon all my friends were doing it.”

Shaneen’s time at TEAM Englewood Academy is coming to an end, but she plans to continue to serve after high school. She will be starting a social work major at Chicago State University in the fall and will be the first in her family to attend college. She wants to focus on helping kids and teens and believes that service and social work can help solve the community’s biggest problems.

“I think service can help (end) poverty and violence by bringing people together,” Shaneen says. “I would like to see everyone getting along with each other and people not being scared to walk down certain blocks.”


This graduation season, show your #GRADitude for buildOn by investing in future graduates like Shaneen.



Posted May 28, 2015 in News by buildOn

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buildOn’s Senior Service Superlatives celebrate students like Shaneen who are showing ‪#‎GRADitude‬ and making a difference through service. When...

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