An Interview with
Bri Wallington Ferguson
Learning Director, Brookland Achievement Center
Higher Achievement Alumna
What center did you attend and when?
I attended Ward 7 “The Best The Best” during 2004 – 2008!
What is your favorite memory of your time in Higher Achievement?
I don’t have a particular memory because there were a lot of fun things happening at Ward 7 when I was a scholar. What I loved most about Ward 7 was that we were definitely family. We would have fun and encourage one another. We would hold each other accountable for doing what is right. We could argue with each other but no one outside of Ward 7 could mess with any one of us because we had each other’s back. All of our Center Directors and Assistant Center Directors made sure we had pride in Ward 7. They taught us how to unapologetically be proud of who we are no matter what society said, where we came from and what we looked like, to use our voices and advocate for ourselves, and have pride in our Ward 7 family. With that pride, we dominated chant competitions at Olympics of the Mind and came back as alumni to work as interns. Ward 7 was truly the best.
What are you up to now?
Higher Achievement has influenced a lot of what I am up to now. After graduating from Higher Achievement and middle school, I went to and graduated from Elizabeth Seton High School (Go Roadrunners!). I got my undergraduate degree in Business Administration from THEE Temple University (home of the owls!), and received my graduate degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. From there, I am now an educator. Seeing the impact that Higher Achievement has made in how I view educational equity for all students no matter where they come from and who they are played a role in my career.
Because I learned the importance of using my voice and advocating for what is right is why I have consistently gone back to working at Higher Achievement. I have had a plethora of roles from intern to now a Learning Director at HA (going into my third year as a Learning Director). I am also on the DEI Council at Higher Achievement to make sure we are internally modeling what we want the world to look like for our scholars and families. I have been married for the past two years to a Higher Achievement alum. I am continuously working towards fighting for inclusion and equity as I grow in my career by participating in fellowships like the oneTilt fellowship to make sure I am a leader in organizations that advocates for policies and a workplace culture that challenges the status quo of white supremacy culture and practices diversity, inclusion, and equity in the work we do in organizations.
What advice do you have for scholars/alumni?
The best advice that I can give scholars and alumni is to stay connected to your HA staff, fellow scholars/alum, and mentors. This is your foundation of a personal and professional network. A lot of the opportunities that I got that helped me grow personally and professionally after becoming an alumni of HA were because I stayed connected to my HA mentors and center staff. My ACD, Ms. Christie and Mr. Mike took me on college tours when I was applying to college. My mentors tutored me in high school, helped me get internships in college, and connected me with people who could give me advice on college and what to do in my career. My fellow alumni that I grew up with have always had my back, encouraged me to be at my best self, and connected me to professional development opportunities that have helped me grow to where I am today.
Your Higher Achievement family/network does not end when you graduate. They want to continue to help and to see you grow as a person. You never know what scholarships, career advice, people, job opportunities, etc. that could come your way staying connected to the people who helped you in middle school. Also, stay connected because you need all the moral and emotional support when you are transitioning between all the journeys and chapters in your life. Life is not easy but it’s better to navigate when you have more people including your family in your corner to root for you as you journey through the ups and downs of life.
Any other additional thoughts you’d like to share?
No matter what you do, who you come across, where you go, continue to be unapologetically you. We know the state of the world right now is filled with uncertainty and injustices/inequities that frustrate us and make us angry. It seems like we are in a constant fight to prove our worth to the world especially if you are a person of color.
But I end this with my favorite quote from Frederick Douglass, “The soul within me no man can degrade”. No one can dictate your worth other than you! Stand in who you are and demand what you are worth. Part of liberation is working towards unapologetically being who we are without the constraints of what society says we can and/or should be. We create our own paths to who we want to be and what the world should be for us. So always challenge the status quo because our liberation does not require us to dim our light for the betterment of systems that are not for us. We got work to do but we got this!