I met Jay and Sahaar at YearUp and immediately saw possibilities for Mozilla’s participation and by January 2010 we welcomed our first, albeit entirely overdressed, YearUp intern, Justin, and followed that with our second intern, Henry, in August.
Going into 2011, Mozilla increased it’s participation with YearUp and took on three interns.
Three semesters (and we’re doing a fourth), five different students. Yet what stands out is their utter determination and strength to rise above whatever set of cards life handed out, hardship and opportunity divide be damned; their persistent drive to excel and their eagerness to soak up knowledge and wisdom from not just me but from their peers at Mozilla.
No doubt a lot of credit goes to YearUp. No doubt a lot more credit goes to the individual student. Very little goes to me – they’ve already plotted their own course – I’m only here, if anything, as a part-time teacher.
I’ve seen Justin and Henry step into roles I never thought they’d be in when they started. Both have become leaders in their own rights. Both continue to be advocates for YearUp within Mozilla, mentoring where I don’t have the faculties to do so.
And part of that defines what Mozilla is to me. It was Mozilla, after all, that rose against seemingly insurmountable odds to become a dominant web browser and an agent of change.
I recently learned that I had been recognized with YearUp’s Core Values Award, an award that recognizes those that embody YearUp’s principles; principles that are at the foundation of everything they do.
This isn’t an award I can accept on my own though.
It’s only an award I’m able to achieve because I have the privilege and luxury to stand on shoulders of giants who have helped me, who have mentored me, who have unknowingly shaped my own life (and whose numbers exceed my ability to adequately thank).
It is because of the way Mozilla has shaped and molded me over the past five years that I’m able to be thought of as “living YearUp’s Core Values”, the ability to think less of the individual importance of self but the overall success of the whole, of the Project and of the Community (and ironically success of the latter tends to bring the former).
I’m humbled to even be considered for such an award let alone be privileged to work with YearUp. That I’ve had any part in shaping another human’s trajectory in life is mind numbingly humbling (and not something I ever specifically set out to do).
I’ll leave with a few words from an email I sent after attending my first YearUp graduation where Mozilla was presented with YearUp’s Urban Empowerment Award:
It is with a sense of awe and a feeling of pride to be involved with YearUp.