We recently caught up with some of the former RYLA graduates from Scarborough.  Here is an interview with Alyssa Brackett, a graduate of Marist College.  She now works for an advertsing agency in New York City. 


What were some of the skills or thoughts you came away with after experiencing RYLA for the first time?

I felt a new level of confidence in myself and my skills as a leader and team member. The program helped me clearly identify my strengths and weaknesses which allowed me to further develop those post-program.


Why would you recommend RYLA to future RYLA applicants?

It’s such an amazing experience, especially at that age (that you enter the program) you’re at a point where you’re still trying to find your niche in life, who you are and what your goals are. This environment allows that inner growth.


Alyssa, you returned as a facilitator 3 times fo future RYLA classes, what was different about your experience as a facilitator vs. a participant?

Even though I was a facilitator, I was still learning. It was such a unique experience to know the program and push the participants to ensure they were getting the same level of experience, if not more, than what I did. I could help those who were unsure, confused, or frustrated and further encourage those who were fully engaged.


Many strong bonds are created at RYLA, how have these bonds grown or helped you throughout the years?

It’s such a great experience and to do it with (primarily) strangers makes for a very unique but strong connection. It’s been over 7 years (maybe 8?) since my last RYLA program, and I still talk to people I went through the program with or who I was a facilitator with.   I’ve reached out to them when I’ve had to make a difficult decision (like selecting a college or before a job interview) and they remind me of my strengths and are the same support system I had when trying to overcome my fear of heights by climbing a 12 foot wall during RYLA.


What did your experience at RYLA help you with?  Can you give a specific example of how a skill you learned at RYLA helped you down the road at school, or in your current career?

It helped me develop my skills as a leader, which I’ve been able to use through college and in my present day career.  In college specifically, I had the skills and confidence to apply and be elected as a Resident Assistant and remained in that position for 3 years. As an RA I was a point of contact, confidant and source of information for students and faculty for 3 years, while organizing educational programs on monthly basis.   Looking back it was like being a facilitator every day on the academic year for 3 years. I helped to mentor younger students (participants) through this new experience.


I truly think this was the single best program I was part of during my high-school and college years. Looking back I see how I matured over the years and how my level of interaction with friends, family and school activities changed for the better. The skills I developed as a leader and team player are still very prevalent in my life today.