Catching up with Summer Program alum Zander Payne

As many of the learners from our Readiness Institute Summer Program know, our connection doesn’t just end after the summer. We continue to stay in touch with learners when they go back for their senior year, after they graduate high school, and beyond. We recently checked in with some of the young adults who were a part of the inaugural cohort of the Summer Program in 2021. They have now graduated high school and are on to their next steps of adulthood. This series will feature several of our Readiness Institute Summer Program alums to see where they are now, hear about their favorite memories of the summer experience, and collect any words of advice for their fellow alums!

Zander Payne

Zander standing at an overlook, with city buildings and a glowing orange sky in the backgroundWhere are you now?

I am currently at Penn State New Kensington studying criminal justice. I am also an assistant manager at Lids when I am not busy studying.

What do you enjoy most about where you are now?

What I enjoy most is being able to not be judged the same way as high school and feeling free to be myself. I have control over my time and my money. I wanted to be more independent, and I get to do that now, which makes me happy.

How has your life changed since the Readiness Institute?

Since leaving the Readiness Institute, I have become much more comfortable with who I am as a person, and I am beginning to love myself. I was uncertain about myself in high school, but through the Readiness Institute, I met a new group of friends who helped me become more confident.

How did the Readiness Institute help you prepare for where you are now?

The program has taught me soft skills along with helping us apply to colleges and for student aid.

What is your favorite memory of the Readiness Institute?

My favorite memory was the tour of Robert Morris University. We got a chance to ride on the “Bobby Mobile,” which is the campus carts they use to tour the campus. My cohort loved it so much, we were making plans to move in together and go to college there!

What is one thing on your bucket list‚ personally or professionally‚ that you would like to check off in the next five years?

Having a stable job and getting my first apartment. Although I already have a job, I want to work on my work/life balance to be able to get an apartment on my own.

What advice or message do you have for your fellow Readiness Institute alums?

Continue to use the supports you have around you. They will greatly help you get through whatever situation you are in.

See all Summer Program blog posts