First Niagara Intern Spotlight: Ajay Culhane-Husain

Name: Ajay Culhane-Husain
Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA
College: Yale University
Major and Minor: Economics and Education Studies
Favorite Children’s Book: The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper

My experience at New Haven Reads this summer has been incredible. I have observed an organization that recognizes the power of learning and seeks to empower students through education. I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to contribute to this mission. As I wrap up my internship with the organization, I want to share some highlights from my experience–namely, interacting with the leadership at New Haven Reads and having the privilege to teach students.

In my first week on the job, I observed a small team that works tirelessly to provide local youth with an opportunity to explore, grow, and dream. As the Education Director put it, “all of this work is for the kids”. After spending the summer with this group, I am confident that her statement is true. I have found a team that caters to the needs of its students through customized curriculum. I have found the leadership to be readily available to advise me on my teaching, and most notably, I have been inspired through their passion for youth empowerment.  This supportive community is the foundation of New Haven Reads and their influence transcends the entire organization. 

While I have enjoyed learning from the leadership of New Haven Reads, I have also enjoyed teaching my students. One of my priorities this summer was to make the learning process fun in the hopes that my students would want to carry on their education outside of the classroom. For example, to teach multiplication, I used a basketball with numbers on it. Every time a student caught the ball, they had to multiply the two numbers their hands touched. On another occasion, I brought 500 pennies to help the students visualize large-scale division. The result was rewarding; all of my students showed significant improvement in their mathematical skills and they had fun while doing it. 

I recognize now more than ever the importance of investing in the world around us. Through New Haven Reads, I have seen firsthand the impact of education. As I complete my internship, I am excited to continue to find new ways to empower the communities around me. I am so grateful to the First Niagara Foundation in partnership with KeyBank for this incredible opportunity.