Syreeta Gates: Urban Youth Culture

Syreeta Gates
Urban Youth Culture
Home College:  Hunter College
Faculty Mentor:  Prof. Erica Chito Childs, Sociology, Hunter
Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship

Through the power of popular culture, Syreeta Gates has created a deep connection with young people. As the founder of The SWT Life and author of Just Be Cause (2012), she has inspired, educated and impacted hundreds of American youth in the past seven years.  Her accomplishments as a youth development consultant and philanthropist have established her as one of the most promising cultural leaders to watch.  Gates, a 23 year old from South Side Jamaica, Queens, was honored as one of Glamour Magazine’s 20 Amazing Young Women at the 2010 Glamour Women of the Year Awards.  She believes that, “we are not merely inheritors of a culture but its makers,” and she continues to build programs that encourage young people to take action and shape culture.

One of her proudest accomplishments is spear-heading the Ministers of Culture Program with SAFE.  SAFE, a project of the Lutheran Family Health Centers, trains youth between the ages of 14 and 19 to provide life-saving information to their peers through workshops, performances, and community outreach.  Her most recent creation is The SWT Life Convo, a pilot program that gives New York City teens (between 14-18) a clear understanding of how to have their passions, strengths and purpose drive their success in school and life now.  She is also the Editor and Chief of Carter Magazine, a quality online publication geared towards the culture of hip-hop and operated by youth in hip-hop culture.

Gates started college at New York City College of Technology, then transferred to LaGuardia Community College.  While still at LaGuardia, she enrolled in CUNY Baccalaureate, making Hunter College her home college in Spring 2011.  Her concentration, Urban Youth Culture, is made up of courses such as Mentoring and Adolescent Development, Children and Youth in Urban Environments, Hip Hop Culture and History, and Leadership, Motivation and Power, from Brooklyn, Hunter and York Colleges.  She also earned 15 life experience credits from CUNY BA for her prior work and learning in the fashion industry, social entrepreneurship and social justice.  Indeed, her supervisor at the SAFE project at the Lutheran Family Health Center endorsed her application to CUNY BA saying, “In all my time in academic and social justice work, I have never met someone with such promise and clear vision as Syreeta Gates.”

Most recently, Gates was featured in Tony Wagner’s (Harvard Professor & NYT Best Seller for The Global Education Gap) latest book titled Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World.

You can follow Syreeta Gates: @syreetagates, and visit these links to her projects: