Spark Story: Terez Chapman

Celebrating 20 years of Impact

If you know Terez Chapman then you know how Usher’s New Look strives to help students identify and develop their spark (passion). Whether someone’s spark is reading, singing, or science, New Look prides itself on successfully cultivating their students goals, passions, and aspirations in order to send them into the real world with their best foot forward.

Terez joined New Look after her experiences in the Villages of East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia.  Daughter of an immigrant from Guyana, Terez frequently moved around as a child before settling in the violent (at the time) housing project. Though the violence of East Village has decreased by 95% since it’s peak in the mid-1900s, Terez lived in an area where crime was once 18 times higher than the national average. Terez expressed how the project was called “Little Vietnam,” though she “wasn’t sure why” at first. Evidently at one time the deaths per month in Atlanta were equal to the monthly death toll of Americans in Vietnam. Terez also shared a personal experience she had with her brother when they were approached by men and held at gunpoint while waiting for the bus.

Terez was initially hesitant when she learned about the New Look Foundation because she wasn’t sure where she fit in as “a nerdy girl, interested in turtles, and nature and trees.”  At first she assumed that New Look was an entertainment-based nonprofit organization; however, she soon realized that it’s goal was to educate students and help them find their purpose. Once joining the organization she stated how “a lot of the staff and faculty turned into a second family.” 

Terez shared her story during UNL’s 20th Anniversary celebration.

“When my interests would change their support would stay the same, but they would still provide me with different information to propel me in that way”

Terez Chapman

New Look helped cultivate Terez’s interests in nature and public speaking to provide her with the necessary resources and opportunities needed to succeed. Over time, Terez took on more responsibilities within the organization such as “editing paragraphs for the website” since she enjoyed writing and “introducing guest speakers” because she was interested in public speaking. She’s grateful that New Look helped push her towards doing more research, applying for positions, and looking into a topic more thoroughly. Terez further explained how New Look’s staff would send her links to current events to keep her more abreast of her interests, fostering her love of nature and helping her embrace it in order to make a career for herself. She noted how the great thing about New Look is how even when her interests changed “their support would stay the same, but they would still provide” her “with information to propel” her in that direction.

Terez thanks the organization for giving her “a new look on life” by providing her with the necessary training in networking and properly communicating to help her succeed.

After her time at Usher’s New Look, Terez noted that there have been times when her sparks for science, nature, and public speaking have intertwined. For example, she has seen this intermingling of her sparks during her internship at the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management when she was “able to communicate all of these difficult (science related) topics” through public speaking. Terez has also shared her sparks while serving as a program assistant at the East Lake Foundation and in a variety of other roles and internships.

Terez is currently at the University of Colorado Boulder working towards her Master’s degree in environmental engineering. Reflecting back on her time at New Look, Terez expressed how she has used her experience “working in a team setting” to help impact the world through conflict resolution and leadership skills. New Look continues to play a role in Terez’s life by acting as a reminder of affirming conversations she’s had with the organization’s staff.  Terez explained how the organization taught her that if something does “not go according to plan, it doesn’t mean that” she “doesn’t have a chance to redeem” herself.

Terez has shared her spark in many special ways, including serves as and embraces her spark of public speaking and environmental studies thanks to her New Look experience.

Terez is grateful for her New look experience and advises future students of the organization to be themselves and “try everything even if it’s something UNL doesn’t offer.” She believes that “if you have a pretty good idea of what it is you would like to see being offered or what it is you might want to take the lead on, you can always contact your coordinator or supervisor” and they will help and reinforce your leadership capabilities.

~ Rachel Meiselas
Marketing & Communications Intern

Rachel Meiselas is a senior at Syosset High School in New York. In addition to working with Usher’s New Look Foundation, Rachel is a published author and works for the female football news outlet, Gridiron Queendom. She is also a contributor to the political entertainment and media company, MeidasTouch, whose objective is to encourage democracy and equality.