At Ciudad Nueva, our team is full of compassionate, understanding people. Keisha Branch, our High School Coordinator, displays a perfect example of the warmth and care we feel for our community.
Keisha left her hometown in Virginia to join our Border Fellows program in 2016, after completing a study abroad program at a youth refugee center in Ireland. She became the first in her family to graduate from college, as well as the first to venture from her family’s home.
Through her experiences in both of these programs, she developed a passion for connecting with and fostering a culture of dignity in the community — especially with youth and migrant populations. As she worked with Ciudad Nueva’s middle school and high school programs, she grew more confident in her ability to minister through personal connections. “I used to wonder, ‘Am I enough? Am I doing enough?’” Keisha shared. “Then, the kids started calling me ‘mom.’”
It took time to develop trusting relationships with some of the kids. Just when she thought she was at a disconnect with a student, they would come to visit her at work to talk and share more about their life. Keisha Branch’s role developed into leading Bible studies and group discussions about social justice, mental health, and other important topics, as well as other outreach platforms. She felt blessed and surprised by how she witnessed the students develop in relationship-building and self-identity and worth. She knew that her work at Ciudad Nueva was making a difference!
There came a time when a group of African migrants came into Keisha’s life through her work. As she crossed the border to visit a shelter in Juarez, “I met these beautiful African migrants. I had the time of my life with them. Some of them became my closest friends.” These new friends of hers overcame tremendous challenges, including the indignity of being detained in detention centers after crossing the border. These precious ladies requested that Keisha do something that we often take for granted: “Could you do something about my hair?”
A talented hair stylist, Keisha was happy to oblige.
She said, “When you know that you look good, you feel good. You get your dignity back, which is what is taken away from them when crossing the border.” To take it a step further, Keisha enrolled in cosmetology school. “I thought, ‘I might as well get licensed!’”
Looking into the future, Keisha is working to complete her cosmetology license and continue serving our community through the simple dignities in life. She is also considering work as an admissions counselor for first-generation college students in the El Paso area. She shared, “I know how hard it is. I was a first-generation college grad. I know how scary it is. I want to mentor someone who needs answers or just wants to talk.” Through Ciudad Nueva’s youth program, many individuals started their college journey by touring universities with Keisha beside them. “I saw the kids’ faces light up when they saw the universities,” she said. Whatever is in the future for Keisha, we know she will continue making a difference.
One thing is for certain —- Keisha Branch has compassion towards those reaching for their goals, be it learning to grow relationships and self-worth, starting a new life in the U.S., or being the first in the family to go to college. We are blessed to have her on our team!
Would you like to get involved in a community that loves and cares for one another? We would love to have you as part of ours. Call us today at 915-521-2951 or contact us online.