Profiles of Impact from On the Road: Mays' Dreams Big for the Future

Mays had a bright smile, and a light inside of her that you could sense even before she started talking. Her eyes were wide and it was clear that she was ready to fully engage in the interview.

Most of the time, kids are never quite sure what they want to be when they grow up. But Mays seemed quite certain. “I wanna be a chef or a nurse,” she said confidently when asked.

Mays smiling for a photo with another On the Road youth

Mays, an 11-year-old 6th grader from Iraq, has been a part of On the Road Collaborative at Skyline Middle School for one year. She heard about OTRC’s afterschool program on the morning announcements, and was enticed by the career enrichment aspect. Her parents were also enthused, and gave her the green light to participate. Mays says that her parents love OTRC, and are very supportive of her participation.

“I like how we do snack time and flex, where you usually do your homework and read for twenty minutes,” Mays said when asked why she enjoyed being a part of OTRC. She talked about how her Team Leaders (OTRC’s afterschool teachers) help her with her homework, and serve as mentors throughout the program. “I like my Team Leads, they’re fun,” said Mays.

On Mondays, she shared that Team Leads play games with them, and do more serious things like circle time. Circle time encourages deep thought from the students, and urges them to think about how they would react in real-world scenarios. One question Mays remembered being asked was, “If you were president one day, what would you do?”

Mays smiling for a photo with two other On the Road youths

Mays enjoys the playing time and the stimulating conversations, but what particularly appealed to her was the career portion – cooking class, to be exact.

“Every Thursday we get to cook,” Mays said, a huge grin creasing her cheeks. She loves getting the recipes and learning how to measure out ingredients. The class splits up into groups, and each group is responsible for a different dish. At the end, all the groups come together and share what they’ve made. The room the class utilizes has stoves and ovens, so students are actually getting the chance to have a hands-on culinary experience.

The nursing idea for Mays’ future career came from a career class that she was part of earlier in the year. OTRC brought in nurses from Sentara RMH to talk about the work that they do, and to teach the kids the value in helping others in that particular field.

Mays wears a chef hat during an On the Road program

Mays says that being a part of On the Road gives her an idea of all the different things that she can do in the future. If she could describe OTRC in one word, Mays said that she would say “helpful.” “It actually helps me with what should I be when I grow up,” she said.

When asked if she wanted to say anything else about OTRC, Mays excitedly said, “I mean, all I can say is I love it!” Mays is looking forward to being a part of OTRC for her next two years of middle school, and is excited to continue growing, learning, and tapping into her talents and passions.

The year-end Promise Campaign is making a promise to a young person – a student like Mays – that they will have access to equal educational opportunities and caring adult relationships during their out of school hours. OTRC has the goal of raising $22,500, to fully fund 15 middle school youth for an entire year of OTRC after school programming.

Give a gift, make a promise, and join us in setting middle school youth on the road to college and career:
Donate. All gifts are matched $1:$1 through December so your impact is doubled!

Thank you for all of your support thus far; Mays’ story is one of many that represent the success of OTRC because of your advocacy. We appreciate you! ​

photo of Rianna Hill

Rianna Hill, On the Road Collaborative Board Member and Media and Events Coordinator for Our Community Place, is the author of this blog post.