College JUMP (Journey Upward Mentoring Program)

Refugee Youth Project’s College JUMP (Journey Upward Mentoring Program) was created in 2015 through a partnership between the BCCC Refugee Youth Project and University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in response to the need RYP staff saw among its students for more college preparation. Undergraduate students volunteer as near-peer mentors to 11th- and 12th-grade refugee students in Baltimore City and County. Mentors and mentees meet on a weekly basis to go over college exploration, application, and preparation. They also participate in monthly events and/or workshops, aimed to expose students to various aspects of college life. Ultimately, College JUMP strives to empower students with the knowledge, skills, and mindset to gain admission and feel prepared for success in postsecondary institutions.

At this time, all program volunteers are UMBC students, but College JUMP hopes to expand to other colleges and universities in the near future. This project is funded and supported by the Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic and AmeriCorps VISTA.

Meet the Leadership Team!

Kaitlin Benner-Kenagy

College JUMP Coordinator

Kaitlin Benner- Kenagy hails from Seattle, WA and served in the Peace Corps as TEFL Volunteer in Azerbaijan. She completed a Masters of Cross-Cultural & International Education with a focus in Marginalized Populations and Educational Development as a Coverdell Fellow at Bowling Green State University in 2016.

While a Peaceworker at UMBC, Kaitlin will pursue a Masters in Elementary Education and TEFL at Loyola University of Maryland and will have dual service placements as a coordinator for the Sondheim Scholars Program and with the College JUMP program, which creates college pathways for refugee youth. She loves reading, tea, painting, and learning languages and cultures.

Shannon Cole

Fundraising Coordinator for College JUMP

Shannon Cole currently serves as the Fundraising Coordinator for College JUMP and works on the financial needs for the program. Shannon works to schedule fundraiser nights and apply for funding in order to keep our program running. Shannon is a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar and has been a mentor with College JUMP for the last two years. Shannon is currently studying Biology and is interested in pursuing a career in the public health and regulatory science fields after she graduates in December.

Reach her at

Lasya Tallapragada

Lasya is a junior Biochemistry major with an economics minor. She is a pre-med student, and hopes to pursue a career in either research or in the healthcare field. She is part of Raas, an Indian dance team on campus. She is also a part of American Chemical Society.