After graduating from middle school, Logan Cox (Los Angeles Cohort 1) joined our Intensive Immersion Program remotely in 2020 as a member of our inaugural cohort in South Central. Logan’s experience in our program helped him discover a brotherhood he yearned for, and also encouraged him to find his voice and follow his own path. We sat down with now 16-year-old Logan to get a firsthand account of his journey, and the significant role The Hidden Genius Project has played in his growth and development as a scholar and Youth Care Coordinator.
How have you been?
Right now I am putting my full focus into school and The Hidden Genius Project. School is actually going pretty well as I am on pace to finish my spring semester with a cumulative GPA of 3.71 My family is doing well too.
How did you first learn about The Hidden Genius Project?
When I was in middle school at Kipp Academy of Opportunity, the school’s counselor, Nicole Winborne, shared the information with my mother about the program. She felt that I’d be a good candidate because the program focused on mentorship. During that time, I really didn’t have a father figure in my life so I really just needed people and a community to be a part of and look up to. I felt as if I needed some type of mentorship in my life to lead me to new and safe activities while being able to find my own passion. That same day Nicole sent the flyer home to my family and we signed up immediately afterward.
What was your experience in the program like?
I’ve enjoyed the brotherhood experience and learning about new things that I actually like. I feel like the best bonding experience was when we went on a hiking trip with Field Day. What I liked about the hike was that it was the first major in-person bonding experience that we had with both the LA1 and LA2 cohorts and the staff. During the hike, we had the opportunity to talk about future plans, what we have been up to, and what will happen next within The Hidden Genius Project. It was also my very first hiking experience too. I’m still more of an in-house person, but if the opportunity came again, I would certainly do it with my brothers any day.
One of the biggest challenges I faced in the program was actually being able to balance school and the program. I eventually backed away from The Hidden Genius Project to do that but then the staff helped me make a plan to do my school work and my program assignments. I overcame this obstacle by following my plan and giving my full effort to finish my assignments, including my summer business project. Perry Irving (Innovation Educator) helped me a lot with my business project through the summer months. He’s great with those assignments and everyone left the business track with a pitch deck which was pretty cool.
Describe the app you designed during your time in the Immersion Program.
During my time in the program, I learned how to use an app called Visual Studio Code. This is what I used to create my own website. While building my website, I was able to learn a lot about fishing for information on the internet. I also used my own imagination and creativity to design my logo with the help of Perry. Although I didn’t finish my entire website, I got a good portion of it done which felt good.
How is The Hidden Genius Project different from other mentorship or training experiences that you have been involved in?
The Hidden Genius Project is not just a mentorship program, it is a family. They looked out for me and made sure I had the skills and opportunities to take care of myself, while making sure that we all felt appreciated and loved. They were always available if we needed a person to talk to or just a friend.
What specific skills learned in The Hidden Genius Project have been most beneficial for you?
Now that I am an alum and Youth Care Coordinator (YCC), the top things that have benefited me in life are my socializing, leadership, entrepreneurship, and money management skills.
At the beginning of the program, I used to be very nervous about meeting new people. What made me nervous is the fact that I didn’t know anyone in the program and everything was quite new to me so I had to learn how to open up. Over time, I managed to relax a little bit and get out of my comfort zone. Now I can talk to new people with a proud voice.
The Hidden Genius Project has given me so many opportunities to earn my own money. The stipend we received in the program allowed me to understand that I have the skills to earn an income. With the help of my mother, I learned how to be able to save and invest in something I believe will take me and my family far, such as stocks. I’ve also learned that I can have a savings account for emergencies. Before purchasing things I ask myself questions such as, “Do I really need what I am about to purchase or can these funds go to something else that actually has a better purpose?”
Also, being a part of the program has encouraged me to go to college and major in business. Entrepreneurship is important to me because I want to be my own boss and I plan on doing that through my clothing business. I have great ideas and want to be able to make decisions on my own while designing my own path.
How do you think your path might have been different if you hadn’t participated in The Hidden Genius Project?
I’m 100% sure that without The Hidden Genius Project my life would have been very difficult. Before joining I was down the wrong path and getting into a lot of trouble throughout middle school. Over time I’ve learned how to hone in on my feelings and think about making choices that don’t have negative consequences.
The version of me before the program had little to no knowledge about the real world. I just wanted to be cool and that was leading me to the other not-so-productive things. The version of me today is a lot smarter and makes way better choices than what I made before. I made these choices because I wanted to fit in and people would look at me as a “cool kid”. The middle schooler Logan was not thinking of going to college and supporting my family in the long run. Instead, I was thinking about who I was going to try to impress next. My focus now is on making a good future for myself.
In what ways have you remained involved with The Hidden Genius Project since completing the 15-month Intensive Immersion program?
After completing the 15-month Immersion Program I came back as a YCC. Each week I work with Mrs. Sherida (Los Angeles Support Services Manager) in Support Services by helping the Geniuses with check-ins during programming. I make sure they are present for programming and I give them updates about upcoming events. But more importantly, I am a big brother if they ever need a person to open up to or talk to. If they ever need anything I am the first in line who helps support them.
Over the last few weeks, I have been shadowing the Los Angeles Youth Educators as they are teaching me more about web development. This month I will be joining Jokim Bryant (LA1 Hidden Genius Alum) as he helps teach our Community Partnership Program with the Compton Girls Club. We will introduce their students to computer science. I’m excited about this experience and opportunity because I can take what I am learning with The Hidden Genius Project to better support others from my own community.
In what ways has the staff of The Hidden Genius Project continued to support you since graduating from the program?
Chris Wilson (Community Partner Programs Manager) and Kayla Mason (Regional Director, West) were the first people I met when I joined the program in 2020. To this day I still stay in contact with both of them often. Chris was the one that supported me in learning how to use technology better. As the Educator for the LA1 cohort, he taught us most of the stuff that we took away from The Hidden Genius Project. Kayla was more behind the scenes, but she still made herself available and was always there if we needed anything. They both called us during the week to hear about what was going on at home and school. They care about who we are becoming as people.
We also had an intern named Samantha (MSW Intern) in our space. She introduced me to the idea of wanting to be a Youth Care Coordinator and taught me how to help new Geniuses coming into the program.
What words of encouragement do you have for future Geniuses?
Stay on top of whatever path you choose after you finish your 15 months. And don’t let anybody change your decision and bring you down the wrong path. Invest in something life-changing that will change your life for the greater good and don’t let another person define you. You define you.
Since 2012, nearly 9,800 students have revealed their genius through our Immersion, Catalyst, and Community Partner Programs, and so many more are waiting to shine.
HELP NEW GENIUSES STEP INTO THE SPOTLIGHT.
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