August 2020

UMB CURE SCHOLAR SPOTLIGHT: PRINCAYA SANDERS

August 05, 2020

Princeya Sanders

Princaya Sanders is a cohort 1 scholar and rising 11th grader at Western High School. Princaya began her journey at the UMB CURE Scholars Program as a sixth grader from Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School and now has transitioned to the CURE Connections High School program (C2).

Princaya is a CURE Scholar who has never shied away from leadership positions and she has recently accepted an internship position in the Elijah Cummings Fellowship Program in Israel (ECYP). ECYP focuses on preparing students in Maryland's 7th congressional district to serve as open-minded leaders with the skills, community ties, and global exposure critical to success in a diverse society. All programming is influenced by the longstanding relationship between Congressman Cummings and the Baltimore Jewish Council. Each fellow begins the program as a junior in high school and must go through the program's two year, three step process that includes leadership development, community advocacy opportunities, and an immersive Israel experience during the summer between junior and senior year. We caught up with Princaya to discuss her recent accomplishment.

Q: Why were you interested in applying to the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel?

A: I applied to the Elijah Cummings Youth Fellowship Program because ECYP could provide me the opportunity to meet new people with a variety of backgrounds and to explore unknown places. I’m thankful for programs that offer opportunities to like this to kids from Baltimore. I think I could benefit most from the leadership workshops. I look forward to meeting with my peers twice a month at the Jewish Community Center to participate in leadership workshops and other activities. I really want to learn how to be a good leader, I want to learn how to be more patient so I can be a better leader. I’m also very excited about the trip to Israel that we go on during our summer between the 11th and 12th grade year. I’ve never been one a plane or out of the country before so I’m excited to do that as well.

Q: How do you stay on top of your multiple commitments?

A: I participate in a lot of after-school activities so I have to stay organized. It’s easiest to organize my activities by using calendars apps on my phone but I always like to have a backup plan so I keep a planner. Currently, my top extracurricular commitment is the UMB CURE Scholars Program because as well as providing new learning opportunities, CURE gives me help with school and the development of leadership skills. Through CURE, I had the opportunity to attend Advocacy Day in Annapolis. We had the chance to present our research projects that we worked on all year to Maryland State legislators and teach them about the importance of programs like CURE. When I went, I presented my poster about lung cancer research and the impact of smoking on Baltimore communities. I like that I can use my interest in science to help make a difference for my community.

Q: Are you a natural born leader? What inspires you to lead?

A: As part of the founding cohort of the UMB CURE Scholars program, I am often asked to serve in leadership positions. For instance, me and four of my peers are featured in an Emmy nominated documentary, From West Baltimore, where we share our experiences as African American children growing up in West Baltimore. The documentary followed us from 6th grade to now, to highlight the fact that Baltimore isn’t just what the media portrays. We all tell a different story of what it’s like to grow up in Baltimore. We show that by bettering your education and participating in after-school programs like the UMB CURE Scholars Program we can better our chances. We can choose to do better for our city. Through the documentary, we became community advocates and leaders in our city.  We told our stories, with our experiences like no one else could. We showed other kids that they can do the same in their communities. I plan on continuing being a leader even in college. As a first generation college student, I want to show other kids that they can achieve their dreams too.

Q: Who influences you most?

A: When I think of a person who influences me the most, I think of Malcom X. He stood in the path of adversity and believed that the way that African Americans were treated was wrong. He believed that we needed to come together to fight for the basic human rights for African Americans.   He gave his life for that belief. He demanded that he and his peers be treated as fairly as their counterparts. He taught me that if you believe in a cause and persevere no matter what, then no one else can hinder your plans. No one can hinder your success. Even though he’s not here to see it, his dreams did come true. He paved the way so I could be a scholar/leader/advocate today. He showed me what a leader is supposed to be, a person who’s not afraid to do what they believe in


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