From Students to Staff: How Two Alumni Give Back

When Urban Alliance students graduate, they’re never really leaving the program. The door is always open for whatever support or guidance is needed. Alumni continually come back to take advantage of ongoing mentorship, advanced professional development, or additional internship opportunities – or simply to give back to a program that has given them so much by volunteering. Our thousands of alumni are part of the extended Urban Alliance family for life.

Sometimes, the desire to give back leads alumni to pursue careers in youth development – and some begin those careers right here at Urban Alliance. For two alumni of Greater DC, their desire to serve the next generation led them back to UA as members of our Greater DC team: Stella Afolabi (DC 2012) and Kameshia Tolliver (DC 2015).

Stella Afolabi has been a member of the UA team since 2017, first supporting as an Operations Associate with the national team and now working directly with UA youth as a Program Coordinator. It was an easy decision, she said, after the incredible experience she had as a high school intern.

DC 2012 Stella Afolabi

“As a high school student, I was given an opportunity to conquer these skills that I was taught,” she said of her UA internship at the World Bank. “My favorite memory was being included…this was a place where I’m in a room amongst all these professional people and they didn’t overlook me.”

Throughout her studies at Howard University, Stella kept in touch with UA staff, who were always a phone call away, assuring her that someone would always look out for her. She was inspired to provide that same level of care, encouragement, and support that she received as a young adult by joining the organization full-time.

“Spaces like these are so necessary.. because I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t apply for Urban Alliance., I know that I would not be this far at all,” she said. “It’s just great to see the turnaround and the outcome, and the great work that we as an organization can provide.”

Similarly, after graduating from Delaware State University, Urban Alliance alumna and Washington, DC native, Kameshia Tolliver returned to the organization as a Regional Associate, assisting the Greater DC team as a bridge between Urban Alliance and external job partners.

DC 2015 Kameshia Tolliver

“I just knew that they [Urban Alliance] will always have open arms for me to come back,” she said. “My dream job is to basically just give back to the youth, help the youth…have the same help and mentorship that I needed.”

While in college, Kameshia remained connected to Urban Alliance, learning about scholarship and work opportunities. She noted that the staff always went the extra mile to take an interest in her. Now, she prides herself on working alongside the very organization that motivated her to pursue higher education in the first place, which was initially an afterthought for teenaged Kameshia.

“I would just like to thank UA for everything,” she said. “I know that these people are going to push me for the best. Even when I started here, they made sure this position would align with my career goals…not only just worrying about what I can do for the company, but they also wanted to know what they can do for me.”

Whether working for UA, volunteering at our events, pursuing teaching jobs, endowing small UA scholarships, or enthusiastically raising their hands to share their UA stories, alumni like Kameshia and Stella are a critical part of the success formula at UA. We believe that it is just as important to let every young person know that they have someone in their corner as it is to open the door to their first workforce opportunity. That deep support helps our students to thrive for years to come. When UA students graduate from high school, they gain a family for life.