Briya to expand to Fort Totten neighborhood

Briya is excited to be opening a new school in the Fort Totten neighborhood in time for the 2016-17 school year! The Fort Totten campus will enable Briya to serve more students in the communities where they live, expanding the school’s services from Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant and Petworth to Fort Totten.

Beginning in the fall of 2016, Briya will offer classes at Fort Totten that are part of its family literacy program, which includes adult education (English, digital literacy and hands-on parenting) and early childhood education. In the future, high school diploma and workforce development classes will also be offered at the site.

Fort Totten students will benefit from many amenities—including a computer lab; a comfortable parent waiting area; rooms for tutoring and other small group activities; separate playgrounds for pre-K, infant and elementary-aged children; a large multipurpose room for events and indoor recess; and much more.

Briya will be joined at the Fort Totten campus by two partner organizations – Mary’s Center and Bridges Public Charter School – to offer even more comprehensive services for families under one roof.

Mary’s Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, will offer a variety of medical care, dental care, social supports and social services for children and adults at Fort Totten. Mary’s Center and Briya’s joint presence builds on their 25-year commitment to providing holistic support to the families they serve together.

Bridges is an inclusion elementary school, specializing in educating children with special needs. Bridges will enroll children in pre-K through fourth grade for the 2016-17 school year, and will expand to fifth grade in future years.

The Fort Totten campus, located a five-minute walk from the Fort Totten metro station, previously housed a DC public school, Mamie D. Lee. Briya, along with Bridges Public Charter School, was awarded the building by Mayor Vincent Gray in December 2014. Part of the former building remains intact and new construction will expand and modernize the space for the three organizations.

Briya looks forward to welcoming families to its Fort Totten site!

For more information about Briya’s Fort Totten site, please contact Lauren Stoltzfus, Communications Specialist, at lstoltzfus@briya.org. To enroll in Briya classes at Fort Totten, Petworth, Adams Morgan, or Mt. Pleasant, please call 202-232-7777.

Nineteen medical assistant students graduate from Briya

Christie McKay, Executive Director of Briya, with graduates“Reach for the sky and while you are doing so, help as many people as you can,” said Wendy Evora, valedictorian of Briya’s second medical assistant class.

Evora was addressing her eighteen fellow MA graduates, who celebrated their accomplishments during a ceremony this winter.

Christie McKay, Executive Director of Briya, welcomed the group and offered congratulations and encouragement.

“You have chosen an important field because health is really the foundation for everyone to be happy and to have successful lives,” McKay said. “And you are going to contribute to that. You have chosen a field not just to learn but to help others, to help society and to help the world.”

Dara Koppelman, Chief Nursing Officer at Mary’s Center speaking to graduatesDara Koppelman, Chief Nursing Officer at Mary’s Center, also spoke to the graduates.

“Since the inception of the Briya MA program, we at Mary’s Center have hired eight MA graduates,” Koppelman said. “Overseeing the department, I’ve seen that these MAs are some of the most amazing employees in all of Mary’s Center. They’re hard working, they’re intelligent—they’re really amazing.”

During the ceremony, students were recognized for their outstanding achievements. The fourteen graduates who took the national Registered Medical Assistant exam—210 challenging questions in 2 hours—all passed on their first attempt, making them nationally certified medical assistants. The remaining graduates are scheduled to take the exam in the upcoming months.

In addition, five students were honored for perfect attendance—they didn’t miss a single class period all year. Six students graduated with honors, finishing the course with a cumulative GPA of over 90%. Six of the students have already been offered jobs as MAs.

During her valedictorian speech, Evora stressed the importance of the supportive environment that she experienced as a Briya student.

“At Briya, I found not just the highest quality of education … but also a community of people who really care,” Evora said. “That is what has kept me working harder and harder because you cannot find that anywhere else.”

“Thank you, Briya, for caring,” she concluded. “Thank you.”

 

Read Evora’s full speech here.

MA Valedictorian Speech 2016

Graduation Speech – Wendy Evora

Wendy Evora giving her graduation speechHello, my name is Wendy Evora. I am glad to be here tonight representing the hard work we have all done in class and in our internships. I would like to say thank you to all of our family and friends for their support. Without you, this day could not be possible.

My father once told me, “No one can take knowledge away from you.”  I feel so lucky to be one of many people in our multicultural community that Briya, in partnership with Mary’s Center, has given the opportunity to reach the next step in education and job options regardless of our ability to pay. At Briya, I found not just the highest quality of education in ESL, parenting, computers, high school diploma program, and Medical Assistant program, but also a community of people who really care. That is what has kept me working harder and harder because you cannot find that anywhere else.

While in the Medical Assistant Program, I learned that as an MA, we are bridges of communication between the providers and the patients. I saw in the internship and practice how the clients really need not just people who can speak their language but also people who can read their expressions and body language to know how to communicate with them and help them. It’s not just explaining the medical terminology—it is about helping patients with their needs. If they don’t have money to pay for their rent, they might not be able to pay for their medicine.

Sometimes we get so busy helping patient after patient, it’s hard to remember to be there for each individual person. We need to understand the different needs of each person and have empathy for them in a busy health care environment.

We can make the person feel good by taking care of them, smiling at them, giving them quality time and attention for even five to 10 minutes while we are taking their blood pressure. We can ask them, “How are you doing?  Are you able to get groceries?”

Christie McKay, Executive Director of Briya, with Wendy Evora.We need to get the most out of that communication by finding out a little bit about that person. The provider doesn’t have the time to do that. We are the ones to first meet them and we can get that quality information and show we care.

In closing, I am so glad that at school and in the workplace, I have found not just classmates or coworkers but friends who have helped me to serve those who are seeking help. My parents always told me, “Wendy, you must help others without expecting rewards.” This saying so closely matches Briya’s and Mary’s Center’s missions.

Before I came to Briya, I was closed in the four walls of my apartment. My manager told me, “The only limit you have is the sky. You can reach and accomplish whatever you want.”  I am here to tell you the same thing. Reach for the sky and while you are doing so, help as many people as you can.

I would like to say thank you to the MA staff and teachers.  Also, a special thank you to Jennifer. You have given us those five minutes of quality time. You have heard us and helped us.  Thank you for all you have done. And most importantly, thank you, Briya, for caring.