Meet the Fellow: Brandon Manbahal, Bronx, NY


Name: Brandon Manbahal
Hometown: Queens, NY

Some people like long walks on the beach, and then there's Brandon, the Work First Fellow located in the America Works office in Bronx, New York. When he needs a moment or two away from the fast pace of the office, he likes to take long walks in his Bronx neighborhood, which he calls his “beautiful neck of the woods.” 

Q: What motivates you? 
Brandon: The potential for a LIBERATED society.

Just a little over a month into the role of Work First Fellow, Brandon already feels a close connection with his site location. While the title for his favorite Fellowship moment so far is tied between meeting the rest of his cohort and visiting his site for the first time, there are other things he loves about the Bronx office—specifically, the volume of people that pass through every day. Meeting and interacting with so many clients on a daily basis is such a rush, he says, that "the site and its classrooms are more vibrant because of them." 

Q: Who is your most influential role model? 
Brandon: Erik Olin Wright

Brandon spends most of his time teaching in the classroom, and he quickly discovered that his clients are not the only ones with things to learn. Looking back on his experience starting a workshop that ended up going—in his mind, at least—terribly, he reflected, “I needed to fall flat to really appreciate the skills of classroom management and facilitation.” After undergoing that moment of growth, Brandon constantly thinks about his new responsibilities as a Fellow and how he can continue to manage them better. 


"The chief worth of civilization is just that it makes the means of living more complex; that it calls for great and combined intellectual efforts, instead of simple, uncoordinated ones, in order that the crowd may be fed and clothed and housed and moved from place to place. Because more complex and intense intellectual efforts mean a fuller and richer life. They mean more life. Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have enough of it." 

- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

After his year of direct service, Brandon hopes to attend law school and pursue public interest law. He already honed his debate skills as a parliamentary debater at Rollins College in Florida, where he recently graduated. He represented his Alma Mater at an international varsity debate competition at Cambridge University, England, which is still his top pick of places he has visited. But for now, he’s studying for the LSAT, continuing to curate his own personal digital library of over 3,000 books and articles, and following the DailyOverview—a photography project that takes breathtaking pictures from high altitudes. 

A shot of the Statue of Liberty from the DailyOverview

A shot of the Statue of Liberty from the DailyOverview

Books: Nadja by Andre Breton
Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis
Movie: Blade Runner (Specifically, the 2009 Director's Cut) 

Brandon believes that everyone should pursue a long-term service project that takes them out of their element. "It's perspective-shifting," he says, for him and everyone he knows who has participated in something similar. As Brandon settles into his new element as a New York City Work First Fellow, he makes sure to take time to enjoy the small things. "One of my roommates told me to start adding avocado to my bacon, egg, and cheese order at the corner store... My life hasn't been the same since." The next thing on his New York City To-Do list? Getting a bagel. 

Q: What is something about yourself that you are proud of? 
Brandon: I can do a very solid cartwheel. 

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