Kenedi Cain first set foot in the Downtown Boxing Gym four years ago. Now, she’s not just a student participant, she’s part of the staff.
Kenedi, 15, parlayed her hard work in the ring — and especially in the boxing gym’s classrooms — into her first-ever job as a part-time assistant in the STEAM Lab. The incoming sophomore at Cass Tech High School started in May 2019 after Katie Anderson, DBG’s academic director, pulled her aside one day to say they wanted to hire a student.
“They chose me because she said I’m a good student, I have good grades, I’m respectful and I’m a leader in the gym,” Kenedi says.
As a STEAM Lab assistant, Kenedi helps make lesson plans. She looks for ideas to conduct the weekly experiments that connect elementary, middle and high school students to science, considering factors like what they’ll learn.
One recent experiment involved having students design a container that would allow an egg to safely fall from varying heights without breaking. The “egg drop” experiment teaches basic concepts like gravity, force and acceleration.
“I hired Kenedi because not only does she have interest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), she is an excellent leader,” says Mike Mroz, the academic coordinator who runs the STEAM Lab. “I was looking for someone who emulated a hard worker, an excellent student, and role model to younger kids. She is a very determined and focused young lady and my role is to help equip her with the tools necessary to succeed in any career that she chooses.
“This is her first job and she’s doing great and is always willing to learn. I see how she interacts with her younger siblings and that’s where her role-model quality stands out. Kenedi is a great time manager and direction follower as well, which is crucial.”
Though she says she likes math more than science, Kenedi says she enjoys working with science and learning more about the environment. She also enjoys being a mentor to fellow students.
“As I’m looking for things for them to learn, I have to learn it myself so I can teach it,” she says.
While she’s much more focused on books than boxing these days, Kenedi says she enjoyed learning to box – it taught her self-confidence and discipline and helped her stand up against bullying.
“The gym didn’t just teach me how to box, it taught me how to use my voice and speak up for myself,” she says.
Her grades have also improved and she says she’s learned to ask for help when she needs it.
When she’s not in school or working at the gym, Kenedi enjoys drawing cartoon characters and logos for clothing. She eventually wants to work in the arts, as a painter, designer, architect or graphic designer.
“I love my job,” Kenedi says. “It’s a challenge and I’m learning as I go. I’m learning with the kids and I’m very thankful for it.”
Congratulations, Kenedi! Keep up the great work.