Imani Bing rises and grinds.
The senior wakes up at 4:45 a.m. to catch the first bus available to work at a restaurant in 30th Street Station at 5:17 a.m. She hops on a second bus at 5:35, works for about six hours, then heads back to Temple University for class.
After class most nights, she’ll have another shift, or she’ll volunteer at local schools, mentoring North Philadelphia youth.
“It always seems like I have something going on,” Bing said.
It was Bing’s passion for volunteering that inspired her to radically shift her college degree.
She has always been passionate about education and serving those in need, she said, but she entered Temple University as a sport and recreation major.
In her freshman and sophomore years, she interned with a nonprofit that hosts after-school programming at Dr. Tanner G. Duckrey Public School, a school for kindergarten through eighth grade on Diamond Street near 15th, where she played sports and served as a mentor.
The experience led her to realize she wanted to pursue a degree in education, and she departed from the School of Sports, Tourism and Hospitality Management after becoming interested in community organizing.
As a sophomore, Bing transferred into the College of Education to focus on urban education, becoming a human development and community engagement major. Her classes focus on the structure and issues of education in urban communities and policy and reform that could help to improve education, she said.
“My goal within my future career path is to bridge the gap between schools and communities,” Bing said. “I have this idea that the home, school and community are all connected.”
Now a senior, Bing is interning with a school counselor and teacher at The U School, a charter high school on 7th Street near Norris that focuses on student development in skills for college and careers while emphasizing their core values: “love, dream and do.”
Bing works with students in the classroom and provides them with both academic and non-academic support. She enjoys working with high schoolers because she can be a positive mentor to them, she said.
“That makes high school my favorite because you get to see them go to the next level,” Bing said. “That’s the end goal for me, is getting students to get into college.”
Aside from her classes and internship, Bing volunteers as a Young Life Wyldlife leader every Monday at the People for People Charter School on Broad Street near Brown since her freshman year. Young Life is a national Christian youth organization. Her role is to provide a safe space for youth to express themselves, she said.
On Main Campus, Bing serves as the co-president of the Human Development and Community Engagement Club, which provides professional development, networking and service opportunities for students in the major.
While it can be difficult to manage her busy schedule, Bing said, it has helped her learn time management as she continues to work toward achieving her professional goal of becoming a community organizer.
“It’s a grind, it’s a constant, constant, grind,” she said. “It’s necessary until I reach my goal when I graduate and get a job.”
Joshua Dicker, who met Bing during freshman orientation in 2015, praised Bing’s dedication.
“Imani is one heck of a woman,” said Dicker, a senior sport and recreation management major. “She is taking classes and working multiple jobs. She definitely has the mindset of being persistent with what she wants and what she gets.”
Bing always encourages others to do their best, Dicker said. She’s very approachable and supportive and has helped Dicker grow spiritually since they met.
“She’s definitely opened my eyes to thinking differently when it comes to problems or things we go through as college students,” Dicker added.
Bing is someone who contributes to the campus community, said Cierra Cubero, a senior media studies and production major who met Bing through social media before starting at Temple.
“She is very determined,” Cubero said. “That’s one thing about her. She likes being independent. She sacrifices a lot and she works hard.”
After graduating from Temple in May, Bing hopes to attend the University of Southern California to pursue a master’s degree in social work.
Alyssa Biederman and Luke Smith contributed reporting.
Editor’s Note: Joshua Dicker was a freelance photographer for The Temple News. He had no part in the reporting and editing of this story.