Growing up, Bryan Capers knew he wanted to work as an advocate for at-risk youth—and he assumed he would pursue that path as a lawyer. He worked for a law firm throughout his undergraduate career and even sat for the LSAT exam before deciding to study social work.
Bryan chose social work after working at a middle school in Baton Rouge, La., through City Year. He found himself spending most of his time taking students out of the classroom for individual counseling. That’s when it clicked for Bryan. “I realized that I couldn’t do that as a teacher or a lawyer,” he said.
“I worked with kids who had suffered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—and I thought that what I had gone through in the Bronx was tough,” he said. “I may share commonalities with this population, but it gave me time to reflect and realize that these are different people struggling with different battles. The field of social work teaches you the importance of understanding diverse populations and cultures.”
While at the Brown School, Bryan founded a student group called Urban Education Initiative. The group focuses on looking at the whole community school model and empowering community members to take on leadership roles to advocate for resources. Their goal is to create better learning environments and opportunities for children in urban communities.
“Courses where I studied direct practice with youth and revitalization of depressed communities really prepared me for my practicum experiences with Fathers’ Support Center and Hazelwood School District,” he said. “Associate Professor Jack Kirkland brings his experience from the community to the classroom. He acts as a catalyst for innovation, especially for urban education and community building.”
Bryan put those skills to work as the college and career program manager at Wyman Center’s Teen Leadership Program. He has recently been promoted to director of the Teen Leadership Program.