Cheyanne Jackson, a buildOn student at the School for Tourism and Hospitality (STH) in the Bronx, shared her inspiring story of service at the 2017 buildOn Gala in New York City. As a senior at STH, Cheyanne has already served nearly 200 hours in her own community with buildOn.
I feel like I’ve broken life’s cycle through buildOn and service. People think kids from the Bronx are trouble, but a lot of us serve because we want to change our community for the better.
Growing up, I felt like I didn’t matter to anyone other than my mother. But with buildOn, I immediately found a family and I felt loved.
…it’s important for me to serve at the shelter because I want to show people that there is help and hope.
One of my favorite places to serve is at a homeless shelter called Part of the Solution or Pots. Serving there reminds me of how my mother, my sister and I lived in a shelter when I was just a baby.
Above: Cheyanne stands in front of the School for Tourism and Hospitality in the Bronx. As a leader within buildOn at STH, Cheyanne serves as an ambassador for the program while giving back to her community. (Photo Credit: Braulio Acuria)
Back then, it felt like there was no one to help us. So now it’s important for me to serve at the shelter because I want to show people that there is help and hope. I know it’s the little things that count, so I always like to put a smile on people’s faces when I’m there.
Everything that happened to me in my life has made me a stronger individual. I’ve always wanted to be like my mother, and now I know that I am because I’m powerful and determined. I could have been exactly like how people predicted me to be, but I know that I worked so hard to get to where I am now. I know that I’m strong, intelligent, all the things that I dreamed I’d be.
buildOn is family to me. And we’re a family that is changing the Bronx for the better.
Being a part of buildOn has helped me because I felt I was one of those kids crying for help. I felt like I didn’t have anybody to turn to but now, I feel wanted, I feel loved, I feel happiness—it’s everything that I wanted for a long time. buildOn is family to me. And we’re a family that is changing the Bronx for the better.
Below: Cheyanne shared her story at the 2017 buildOn Gala at the Javits Center in New York City.