Staff Spotlight: Brandon Julian
Brandon Julian first came to the AJCC when he was 14 and volunteered for Gesher in the Game Room (now called Kids’ University). “I was a CIT first and then volunteered for a year. Shortly after receiving the Chai Volunteer award, I was hired as a Jr. Counselor for Camp Komaroff. I moved up quickly. First I was a Jr. Counselor, then a Sr. counselor, and then my last summer before I went to college, I was the CIT coordinator. I went to college at Humboldt State in Northern California and got my degree in Child Development. After college, I came back to Long Beach and was the CIT coordinator for one more summer.
“Then I moved to San Francisco, where I served as an Americorps Volunteer through First 5 California. While I was finishing up my AmeriCorps service, I applied to be a Peace Corps volunteer and was accepted for deployment the following year. While I was waiting to deploy, I decided to return to Long Beach to be near my family, and naturally, came back to work at the AJCC—this time as a substitute teacher in the ECE department.
“In the Peace Corp, I volunteered for two years as a Youth Development Volunteer through the Local Government Administration in a tiny mountain village of 2,800 people. I spent the majority of my days at the only school (K-9) in town helping the English teachers improve their pedagogy and English language instruction. On other days, you might find me at the local health clinic, preschool, or, my favorite, the continuation school.
The students at the continuation school were primarily pregnant teens and young moms. They were my favorite because, despite all the odds, they still wanted to pursue their own self-development, and sometimes they brought their babies and/or children to class. The flagship of my service was a one-day community event. We brought the kids, teachers, local police, doctors, and government administrators together to teach the youth about drug addiction and prevention, sexual reproductive health, and international rights of children. Dana Schneider [current Camp Komaroff Director] was visiting at the time and together we taught a rotation on Youth Tour Guides and Entrepreneurship.
“When I came back to Long Beach in May 2015, I wandered into the Youth Department to ask Natalie Chernik for a part-time job, but instead she offered me the position of CIT program coordinator, again. After almost 2 years and a few fundamental structure changes to the Youth Department, I am now the Kids’ University and Teen Director, as well as the advisor of our local BBYO Chapter, The Ray Alpert AZA.
“I’m overjoyed to be back at the AJCC, my home away from home. There are a lot of new faces and programs, but the welcoming, accepting culture that I knew as an adolescent is still intact. I’m thankful to Jeffrey Rips, Susan Paletz, and Natalie Chernik for trusting my ability and providing me with opportunities to develop myself both professionally and spiritually. After nearly a decade of moving around and seeing the world, I’m finally ready to settle into my hometown and give my best self to my community.”
In addition to being a wonderful addition to the AJCC Youth Department, Brandon is currently a Master Gardener Trainee through the University of California’s department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Come find him in June for general gardening advice!