Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s community support efforts often focus on education and social services for underserved youth. Over the years I have written from time to time about my long term involvement with foster care and related child welfare services in Miami-Dade County. For most of those years my primary connection has been to Our Kids of Miami-Dade which is the lead agency for foster care on behalf of Florida.
During this time I worked closely with Fran Allegra who recently transitioned from Our Kids’ CEO to President of The SEED School of Miami. SEED Miami will be the third of its kind in the US, following Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
Here is a very travel-friendly guest entry by Bradley Jacobs, a young graduate of SEED DC who is helping to get SEED Miami started.
Hi, my name is Bradley Jacobs, and I graduated from The SEED School of Washington D.C. in 2009. I’m currently a junior at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland. For those who may not know about SEED, we are a network of public, college-preparatory boarding schools whose mission is to provide an outstanding, intensive educational program that prepares children academically and socially for success in college. SEED schools go from grades six through twelve and students are on campus from Sunday through Friday evening.
Like Royal Caribbean International does for so many guests, SEED served as a vehicle for me to travel to places I could only imagine. Learning about different cultures in class made all of my friends curious about travel and exploration, and we were lucky to pursue that curiosity. While at SEED, I went to Greece and explored the ancient architecture of Athens. My next adventure through SEED was to Mexico, where I spent a month doing community service at a group home.
My trip to Mexico inspired me to go to the Island School in the Bahamas during the fall semester of my junior year at SEED. Honestly, who can say “no” to spending 3 months on an island? Not only did I come back with an amazing tan, but I also became a certified scuba diver, ran a half marathon, and went on a 6-day kayak trip. The experience was awesome and I was tested mentally, too. I first struggled with the academics, but through the skills I learned from SEED, I gained the confidence to ask questions and advocate for myself. These travel experiences gave me perseverance and an openness to embrace cultural differences. Surviving in unique environments and taking on unfamiliar activities taught me to believe that I’m capable of doing anything.
Five years after graduating, I am still travelling with SEED: this time to Miami, Florida, for my spring break. I wasn’t partying; I was helping The SEED School of Miami with their first student outreach effort. (This is way better than partying—or at least more productive). The home visits to SEED Miami applicants were my absolute favorite part. It took me back to my own home visit when I was applying to SEED. Being part of that first interaction that a student has with SEED was a full circle moment for me. What surprised me was how much everyone wanted to hear what I had to say! At one point, someone said to a staff member, “Yeah, we don’t want to hear from you, we want to hear from the graduates!” That made me feel like all my hard work was all worth it.
I’m glad that I was able to help SEED, and who wouldn’t want to brag about visiting Miami for spring break, anyway? It was hard work, but it was gratifying because I was helping an organization that continues to believe in me today, five years after my graduation. SEED sometimes believes in me more than I do in myself. I’m excited to watch SEED Miami grow into a school that will place emphasis on culture and travel. I’m even more excited, and slightly jealous, that future students will have access to so many travel opportunities. If I could, I would try to fit in one of their suitcases!