From Student to Staff: A Q&A with Terry Fontanillas, our Foundation’s Newest Coordinator who Grew Up with Garden of Dreams
Sometimes, life comes full circle! Terry Fontanillas first learned about Garden of Dreams when he was just 6 years old. Growing up in the Bronx, Terry was affiliated with Garden of Dreams partner WHEDco, and quickly became involved with various events and programming hosted by the foundation. He never imagined he would one day be involved in the planning process of those same programs as a member of staff!
Read below to see what Terry has to say about life on the other side of the desk.
How old were you when you first became involved with Garden of Dreams and what is one of your earliest memories at a Garden of Dreams event?
My earliest memory of Garden of Dreams was when I was about 7 years old. Garden of Dreams in collaboration with WHEDco provided hundreds of toys/wish list items to the young people of WHEDco and I remember I was so happy to be gifted a scooter.
2. How did your participation in MSG Classroom impact other areas of your life?
My participation in MSG Classroom allowed me to learn about different career paths available and exposed me to a glimpse of what they do. From marketing and communications to show production to on-air talent, it opened my eyes to the vast possibilities I had in front of me. At the time, it allowed me to create bigger goals for myself.
3. As a Garden of Dreams Scholarship recipient, what doors did your education help open for you?
The Garden of Dreams Inspire Scholarship allowed me to attain a top-tier education and become a better person by learning skills necessary for success. Thanks to the Inspire Scholarship, I don’t have the stress of thousands of dollars in student loans.
4. If you could give advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be and why?
I would tell my 10-year-old self to be curious, ambitious, never allow yourself to give up on your goals and NETWORK. I believe these are the things I needed to hear as a 10-year-old. I got a grasp of these key skills through MSG classroom and college, and it impacted my life in a great way. I began to believe I could be someone and eventually impact the people around me and in my community.
5. What has your involvement with Garden of Dreams taught you about yourself and/or inspired you?
My involvement with Garden of Dreams inspired me to dream bigger, believe in myself and understand that there is another path to success other than the ones I saw in my inner-city neighborhood. Garden of Dreams opened my eyes to a different world and allowed me to have once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences. Through Garden of Dreams, I developed a social responsibility to help and inspire my community. I will be forever grateful.
6. As a current Garden of Dreams employee, what impact are you most looking forward to having on the foundation’s young people?
As a current Garden of Dreams employee, I am looking forward to inspiring and continuing to impact the lives of the foundation’s young people. The impact Garden of Dreams had on my life is something I would love to pass on to the next generation of “Garden of Dreams kids.”