Ayinde Alleyne is an exceptional mentor, role model, and teacher who credits his success to the caring adults who supported him as a child. Today, he works tirelessly to pay it forward, ensuring that his students have even more doors open for them than he had for himself.
Ayinde grew up in the Bronx, a child of immigrant parents from Trinidad and Tobago. A teacher by profession, Ayinde’s mother instilled in him a love for learning, encouraging him to find joy in understanding how things work. Through the support of friends and educators, Ayinde was directed on a path to higher achievement, first being selected to participate in Oliver Scholars, an educational access nonprofit, then attending an independent high school, and graduating from an ivy league college. While studying engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Ayinde struggled to feel comfortable, finding himself surprised by the major equity issues in STEM courses. The summer before his senior year, Ayinde discovered BEAM, a space designed at the intersection of the access programs he already knew and the STEM challenges he was personally facing. Ayinde spent the summer living with 7th grade students at BEAM’s Bard College site, assistant teaching courses like “Logic” or “Combinatorics,” running arts and crafts activities, hiking, mentoring, and more. From that experience, he returned to college knowing that he no longer wanted to be an engineer; he wanted to work for BEAM and invest in students like the ones he met that summer, students capable of becoming engineers, physicists, computer programmers, and mathematicians, if only they had the proper support behind them.
Today, Ayinde serves as BEAM’s resident college expert, building relationships with students and college admissions officers to help students apply to college as well as supporting them through the challenges they face once they arrive. In his role as College Support Coordinator, Ayinde supports a group of 20 students in applying to college each year. In August of 2018, Ayinde built upon his own experience to found BEAM’s College Support Pathway, expanding services beyond getting kids into college, but also helping them once there. Supporting students as they enter college, Ayinde becomes their point person and helps to answer all their questions- how to declare a major, how to transfer, how to keep a scholarship during a legal gender transition, how to drop biology but still stay on track to finish pre-med coursework.
At BEAM, Ayinde has also worked with his colleague to start a parent committee, helped to run peer empowerment groups, and created spaces for students to talk about social emotional issues in their lives, understanding that youth success cannot be achieved without addressing external factors in young people’s lives. Ayinde believes in the full potential of every student, holds himself accountable for their success, and uses his own experiences to provide authentic advice, reminding his students “I do this, because it was done for me”.