Aaron Brooks, Florida State University
Being a part of the Kenwood Brotherhood was one of the most impactful experiences I had as a high schooler. I was put into situations that forced me out of my comfort zone, pushing me to lead even when I was afraid, and constantly having to problem solve, which I still do daily. Brotherhood encouraged me to look within myself for the peace we all seek in life and provided a platform for me to explore my passions: singing, playing piano, writing poetry, and making films. It was my Brotherhood documentary that got me into the Florida State University film school in the first place. With the support of the organization, I nurtured these skills and continue incorporate them into my work as a filmmaker today.
I made it to quite a few college tours during my time in Brotherhood. College was always a part of my plan but exposing us to campus environments only motivated me more. On these college tours we got a look into admissions requirements, though I absolutely hated filling out the questionnaires, it taught me a lot about what was expected of me as a student, allowing me to set myself up for a successful future in whatever I choose to do. Once I got to Florida State University, I felt more prepared than most kids who had never lived away from home. Brotherhood inspired me to take my leadership development beyond the four walls of the King Room, prompting me to join the Illinois Leadership Seminar my sophomore year of high school, then on to the Service Leadership Seminar at Florida State.
One of the greatest lessons I learned during my time in Brotherhood is that we never stop learning, that it’s okay when to say, “I don’t know”, and when to ask for help. I am now in my final year at one of the most prestigious film schools in the country and I still find myself saying “I don’t know”. This organization encouraged me to turn to my brothers in times of need, teaching us that we are stronger together and that we have the power to make this life whatever we want it to be. Though we are all in different places and doing different things, we stay in contact, support each other’s journeys and we understand that we will always have that bond that started in Brotherhood It is a safe space to be free and explore yourself, learn about others, and build relationships that will protect you and help you grow. Over the past three years in film school I’ve written and directed two short films and a documentary featuring a fellow brother and former mentee Trey Raines. I am currently writing my thesis film as I prepare to launch into the industry in eight months. I am on the path to becoming a screenplay writer and director, but I also specialize in cinematography and production design. I feel ready to take on the world, and I owe a large part of it to the foundation that the Brotherhood provided.