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Alumni Spotlight: Andrea Bern

For our 35th anniversary, we’ll be sharing the stories of 35 alumni showcasing the leaders they are today and how 21st Century Leaders inspired and impacted their journey. Alumni will represent the 3.5 decades since our founding in 1989 – the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s. Take a read and be inspired!

35th Anniversary Alumni Spotlight

2000’s Decade
: Andrea Bern
H.S. Grad Year: Class of 2004
High School: Dunwoody High School
College: University of Illinois
Current Role: Early Childhood Program and Kindergarten Counselor, The Epstein School

How has your career unfolded and how did participating in 21CL help prepare you for your next steps going to college, taking on a new leadership role in community/college and after?

After receiving my master’s degree in social work, I went to work for the International Rescue Committee as their school specialist assisting refugee children to enroll and attend school.  From there, I found my way into the counseling community and started my own successful counseling practice. Currently I am working as a school counselor. All the summers that I spent as a participant and as a counselor at 21CL camps, I was unknowingly preparing myself for leadership roles such as clinical supervisor in a counseling agency, starting a private therapy practice and being a part of the administration in my school. Activities focusing on effective habits, creativity, social skills, networking, and practice in public speaking have prepared me for all of those opportunities and were needed in order to be successful in all of my roles. 

What’s your memorable or ‘aha’ moment during your time at 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peer, speaking in public for the first time, etc.) 

My ‘aha’ moment from my summers with 21CL came from learning the importance of networking and maintaining relationships. Unbeknownst to me, I was cultivating several significant relationships during my 21CL summers that are still important to me today. I met one of my best friends during my first summer and I have stayed in contact with numerous other colleagues from my summers as a 21CL participant and as a staff member. These relationships have been nothing but beneficial over the years both personally and professionally. 

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? If so, how?

21CL was my first exposure to any sort of leadership training. Everything that I learned and experienced during my summers as a participant and staff member helped to build my foundation for the style of leader that I have been and am today.  21CL made leadership training fun, interesting, and impactful especially as a high school student. 

Why do you believe programs like 21CL are important? And what advice would you give to a current or future student?

Programs like 21CL are very important for current and future students. Leadership skills are not often taught in school or at least to the degree that 21CL provides. These skills are imperative for individuals to have both in their personal life and in their professional life.   Anyone who gets the opportunity to attend a 21CL program should absolutely take advantage of that. Not only will you learn leadership and life skills, but you could also meet lifelong friends and connections who will have a wonderful impact on your life. 

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