Teni hails from Mountain View, California, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, where she attended Castilleja, a college prep all-girls school. Though she had a great time on student government, joining and leading her school’s Diversity Club, playing and coaching a variety of sports, and interning for a fashion group and patent law firm, what she took away from her time in high school was much more than that.
Castilleja was the place where she had the transformative experience of having an academic community that was also a strong support network made up of teachers who actually cared and friends who were always there to encourage. She was and is incredibly lucky to have been able to enroll in such a school, mostly due to the financial support of others. Teni then felt challenged to share this inspirational version of school with those who may not have had the same experience. During the school year, she participated in a mentoring program for girls in middle- and elementary-school from lower-income communities. This was the chance to use the skills she cultivated at school for the better, helping her “little sisters” with their own homework, motivating their creativity, and helping them grow in personal strength and self-confidence. During the summer, this same work continued, as she worked as a part of the Peninsula Bridge Summer Enrichment Program, which also served children from lower-income backgrounds. She taught various electives, always keeping in mind the lessons that her own teachers and mentors had taught her, learning from the same children she taught, and always having a fun time.
Those girls and summer students are the reason Teni is excited to be a part of the Urban Improvement Corps team. Through UIC, Teni hopes to continue being in a community that seeks to better everyone involved, by everyone bringing their own strengths, skills, and weakness, changing lives while simultaneously enjoying much merriment. As for her present, Teni is a freshman at Yale who works at the Calvin Hill Daycare with some adorable 3-year-olds, is a member of DanceWorks and the Black Students Alliance at Yale, and is having fun exploring other groups and meeting other people on campus.