“Without UCAN I wouldn’t be in school,” says Ariyan Moore, who just completed orientation week at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.
Growing up, his experience with school was difficult. Though he has lived in Chicago his entire life, he moved around many times as a child, and attended five different elementary schools.
Ariyan joined UCAN nearly three years ago, when he was 15 and attending DRW College Prep. It was the end of the school day, and his friend Brion Williams said that he was heading over to UCAN. Ariyan asked him why, and Brion told him about Project Visible Man (PVM), a male-centric mentorship program, which piqued Ariyan’s interest.
“At first I was skeptical, because I had never heard of it,” he says of PVM. “I ended up giving it a try. When I went there was a guy speaking about African heritage. He did a presentation on a lot of different things, like the pyramids which African helped build and things of that nature. It was things I never knew. From that day forward I knew it was the place for me to be.”
He has since participated in UCAN’s Diermeier Future Leaders Now institute, a program that teaches youth leadership skills. He has also participated as a speaker on numerous panels on behalf of UCAN, embedding himself as a familiar face around the organization.
“Since I’ve been at UCAN, I’ve made connections with guys who work in the field (marketing) that I’m trying to get into. Guys that actually want to see me succeed, which is something that is kind of foreign in the community,” Says Ariyan. “That attachment, that instantly got me hooked to UCAN.”
Ariyan recently found himself with the opportunity to interview a prominent marketing leader in the industry as a result of his participation in UCAN programming.
“I got to ask him some questions about marketing and got some content and he’s a great guy, very willing to help,” he says. “I got his contact information. I was able to gain a lot from that conversation.”
Now in his first year of college, Ariyan has his sights set high. “I plan to work for a major corporation. I love my city, but I want to work somewhere else after college. After that, I want to start my own business. I want to be an entrepreneur. That’s the goal.”
He’s excited to be at school in a different state, away from home for the first time. “It’s always good to try different things, to get out of my comfort zone. Without UCAN I wouldn’t be as confident as I am today. Being at UCAN really showed me that I can do it. I had never had that confidence before.”