HRM Junior Docent Speaks at Westchester County Budget Hearing

On December 6, Anna Mathews, youth leader in the HRM’s award-winning Junior Docent Program, delivered an impactful speech at the Westchester County Board of Legislators’ Budget Hearing in support of the Museum and her fellow teens. The Junior Docent Program expands students’ knowledge of art, science, and history while strengthening skills in communication, critical thinking, and leadership. Integral to a Junior Docent’s four-year leadership training is preparation for public speaking. Below is Anna’s speech in full:

“Good evening everyone, my name is Anna Mathews. I am a senior at Gorton High School in Yonkers and serve as Chronicler, or Documentarian, on the Junior Docent Advisory Board at the Hudson River Museum.

Founded in 1995, the Junior Docent Program is an award-winning youth development and teen leadership program open to high school students from public schools all across Yonkers. The Program comes with many opportunities for Junior Docents to give back to the community while advancing their knowledge in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) through the many unique combination of resources the Museum offers, like the collections, art exhibitions, and the planetarium, as well as documentation of the rich history of the city of Yonkers and the Victorian Glenview mansion. We are trained by artists and other professionals from diverse fields to lead tours, conduct workshops, and assist with events for the public.

Each year, this program gives eighty teens the chance to experience being in the working world, and sets us on track for our future education and careers. Just a few days ago, we had a College Financial Aid information session from an expert in the field. We have many advisory sessions like these that prepare us, and our families, for our futures. The Junior Docent Program not only promotes our skills for the workplace, but also for our personal development outside of the Museum. We learn the communication, teamwork, and leadership skills we need to be ready for today and for what’s coming in adulthood.

The best evidence of the benefits of the Program I can give you is as a primary source. I am currently in my third year at the Museum, and my peers and manager Pedro Betanzos, an accomplished graduate of the Program himself, can attest to my transformation throughout my time in this program. I joined as a sophomore who had just immigrated to the United States from India. I was very timid, still processing the cultural shock that came with being in a completely different country. This program played a big part in my adjustment to a new environment and being more comfortable here. I met other people with similar experiences that I consider close friends now. I was able to come out of my shell, and now I stand before you giving this speech. If I had been asked to do this years ago I would have said “No!,” without a doubt, but my time in the Program has helped me uncover the confidence I never thought I had, and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has made that possible.

I want more and more students, especially immigrants like myself, to have the life-changing experience of being a Junior Docent and reach their true potential. We could not have reached these heights without your help, and for that I thank you very much. We are grateful for the Hudson River Museum, its staff, sponsors, and you—the Westchester County Board of Legislators—and request that you continue to provide funding for this outstanding program that has played a major role in all of our lives.

Thank you.”


Image: Anna Mathews at the Westchester County Board of Legislators.