We are proud to introduce Julia Loonin (left) and Leotha Hinds (right), our new Program staff at Minds Matter of NYC!
Q: How did you learn about Minds Matter?
Julia (Director of Programs): I learned about Minds Matter from a job posting on Idealist.org, but then was thrilled to make the connection that I knew Erika Halstead from Teachers College at Columbia University. I was drawn to Minds Matter because of the organization’s commitment to college access and to providing under-served students with the support and resources necessary to not only attend, but to thrive in college.
Leotha (Program Assistant): I first learned about Minds Matter in 2007 from my high school guidance counselor. I had just come back from my first summer program (JSA Princeton) and I was so excited to tell her all about it. I then applied and was accepted to Minds Matter. I had some of my most important high school experiences through Minds Matter, including choosing my dream college, Georgetown University. Now I’m an alumna looking to provide an even better experience to students like me as a staff member.
Q: What was your college experience like?
Julia: I played basketball at Bowdoin College and therefore my college experience was largely shaped around the huge time commitment of playing a sport. I had practice, film, lifting or all three each day, but it was well worth it as we got to travel and compete on a national level. I was also lucky that basketball provided a structure and instant community. Going to Bowdoin in Brunswick, Maine was a big transition from growing up in New York City. My first two years were challenging and hard to navigate, but over time I began to connect more with the college and started to fall in love with the beautiful state of Maine.
Leotha: I ended up going to and graduating from Georgetown University! (HOYA SAXA!) My college experience was a roller coaster ride… Everything from the anxiety before you get on the ride, to the dip in your stomach during the loops, the satisfaction when you see you’re close to the end and the feeling on accomplishment but also a tinge of longing when it’s all over. There’s a couple things I would change, of course, but overall I learned so many invaluable lessons inside and outside of the classroom, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Q: What goes on in your life outside Minds Matter?
Julia: I continue to play basketball in two leagues. I try to plan trips out of NYC as much as possible. I love to surf, swim, ski, hike, and eat, and daydream about getting a dog.
Leotha: Outside of Minds Matter, I go on romantic walks with my dog and catch a dance class when I can. If you see me on the train before or after work I’m usually reading a book, and if you catch me on the weekends I’m probably headed to try out something new (restaurant, activity, exhibit). I’ll try anything once!
Q: Where is your favorite place to hang out in New York?
Julia: Battery Park or Prospect Park.
Leotha: My absolute favorite place in New York is at the edge of the water in DUMBO. My friends and I discovered it in high school and anytime I want to feel like I’ve escaped the city or I want to show off what the city has to offer I go there.
Thanks Julia and Leotha! And welcome to the team!