buildOn Alumni Taking buildOn to Their College Campus

We are proud of our buildOn alumni. Several former members of our afterschool programs are now leaders at their university campuses, and continue to give back to their communities by breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations by raising money to build schools in developing countries. On behalf of alumni week here at buildOn, we’d like to highlight three passionate alumni who are buildOn Global Chapter presidents.

Faustino “Junior” de La Cruz is infamous at buildOn. This year he even co-emceed the annual buildOn Gala help in Stamford, Conn. with buildOn’s COO Marc Friedman. While attending the Academy for Language and Technology in the Bronx, Junior “lived and breathed buildOn.” He enrolled at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut in 2011 on a few scholarships and immedietly started a buildOn chapter, which he currently leads as President while working two part time jobs and going to school full-time. His chapter boasts 26 members and it continues to grow.

“We’re making a difference by empowering students,” he says. Every person in the group is assigned a specific leadership position and the group does more than just community service and fundraising. “We consider ourselves a big family here, and we support each other as family.”

Betty Kwan, a senior at the University of California, Davis, had the opportunity to build a buildOn school in Mali while was a buildOn member at DeAnza High School in Richmond, Calif. Now she and her friend Whitney Zuong lead the campus chapter.

The chapter’s fundraising plan for the winter: gift-wrapping! “Last year we did 32 hours of gift-wrapping at Barnes and Noble,” Betty says. The book store provides the materials and the table to set up; Betty just provides the service. “I was able to tell people about the organization and have our donation jar out. People usually donate at least a dollar, and if they really like you they’ll write you a check!”

The University of California, Berkeley chapter is raising money to build their second school! The group went with the buildOn Columbia chapter to Nicaragua this summer, and now they’re hoping to go to Malawi next year. Iris Wong, a senior at Berkeley and a former buildOn member at Acalanes High School in Lafayette, Calif spearheaded the group. The chapter raised money for the trek through a letter writing campaign, and won $1,000 through a competition organized by the university for their stop-animation video promoting literacy.

“When I was in buildOn in high school, I learned how to be a leader,” Iris says. “I learned how to take initiative and be more efficient with my time.” Now Iris feels that being President of the chapter has made her an even better leader. “I find myself making huge decisions that affect a lot of people.”

Be the catalyst for change in people’s lives and their world. Help change the world by empowering children, parents and grandparents. Make a donation to our Breaking the Cycle campaign today! Interested in joining or starting a chapter? Learn more about our buildOn Chapters here.