To make sense of my thoughts—
you know, those lucid 3 a.m. thoughts.
To create a new world,
a world where I can be a woman warrior.
To find myself in the words,
to create a better me.
To open up my mind,
to open up their minds.
To start a revolution,
to make the masses listen.
To give myself a voice,
to give voice to those that do not have one.
To make the rest listen.
—Written by Mighty 10th grader Alesha & Mighty instructor Amy Lafty, 2011.
“In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself.” —Laurence Sterne
Photo credit: Haniah Jones
School: The University of Southern California
Hometown: Edina, MN
What do you do at Mighty Writers? This fall, I had the opportunity to teach a great group of kids in a class called “Impossible Worlds: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy.”
What did you write as a kid? I was always working on a novel that drew from whatever I was reading at the time: “Watership Down,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
Employer: TRA, Inc.
Hometown: Kresgeville, PA
How long have you been volunteering at MW? Going on three and a half years, since the first summer.
What do you do at Mighty Writers? One-on-one tutoring, workshops, homework help and… fundraising.
What did you like to write as a kid? Stories and poems, likely inspired by my love of Dr. Seuss.
What do you like to write about now? Food and travel, recently.
What makes somebody a Mighty Writer? A passion for writing and an excitement to learn.
What keeps you coming back to Mighty Writers? The Mighty kids and the staff. Mighty Writers is the coolest place I’ve discovered since moving to Philly. There’s always something new going on and a ton of energy to go along with it.
If you could put a Mighty Writers anywhere, where would it be? I am partial to West Philadelphia. There are a lot of schools there and a great volunteer base.
What was your favorite book as a kid? “The Lorax,” by Dr. Seuss.
What was the last book you read? “Tell No One,” by Harlan Coben. It kept me guessing until the very end.
Who influenced you to care about writing? Mrs. Reduzzi, my high school English teacher, had a major impact. She helped me to focus my creativity and writing.
Why is writing important for Philadelphia kids? There are so many opportunities if you have with the right qualifications. Philadelphia is a great city, and can only be improved with an increased level of education and writing skills.
Darlene Smith, one of our Mightiest volunteers, is organizing our annual Beef & Beer at the Pen and Pencil Club on March 7. Thank you, Darlene. We couldn’t be more grateful.
School: Drexel University
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa
Volunteer Tenure: Four years.
What I do at MW: Assist with the middle school kids in the Mighty Academy and help with the occasional workshop.
As a kid: I liked to write fiction. I still do.
But now: I also like humor writing, sketch comedy and stand up.
What keeps me coming back: My connection with the kids.
Writing and Philly: Philadelphia kids are very expressive, whether through music, art or writing.
How Mighty Writers affects my life: For the two and a half hours I’m there, my cares and problems go away. Time spent with the kids is very therapeutic. Mighty Writers helps me get through the week.
Favorite book as a kid: “The Giver.”
Last book I read: “One Day It’ll All Make Sense,” the memoir of hip-hop artist Common.
I was influenced to care about writing: By my third and fourth grade teachers. They taught me the importance of expressing myself through the written word. My third grade teacher allowed me to write whatever I wanted. My fourth grade teacher ALWAYS had us writing. And my mother, every summer, would send me to reading and writing camps.
Works: Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania/ Perelman School of Medicine
Hometown: Bowie, MD
What do you do at Mighty Writers? I’m a writing mentor for a high school senior. We chat about life, work on college apps, crunch numbers on financial aid forms and write personal statements.
What did you write as a kid? Poetry, and I also liked to write stories about people or animals going on crazy adventures.