Alumni Stories: “Where Are They Now?”

Badin pictured as a teen at AFH.

“AFH was all I expected and so much more,”

For Badin, AFH played many roles. “It was an introduction to working, an introduction to doing something outside of school, and an introduction to doing something that you’re passionate about,” he said. “The typical immigrant — you’re going to go to college and be an engineer or doctor — I had those blinders on. AFH in a very positive and constructive way removed those.” For Badin, AFH showed him that he could do something different than what he’d always thought he had to be. Still, despite the net positive of the experience, adjusting to the community and culture of AFH took some time.

One of Badin’s works from the Painting Studio at AFH.

“[Stephen] struck the perfect balance between an older cousin who you looked up to, the biggest motivator, and also somebody to help you see outside of your immediate purview.”

Badin stresses the profound impact Hamilton had on him and how grateful he is to have had a black male figure as his mentor. As an adult, Badin commends AFH’s choice to use the term ‘mentor’ instead of ‘supervisor.’ “They’re supervising your work, but they really take that mantle of mentoring teens to heart, and you see the difference.”

“You form such deep friendships and relationships with both your peers and mentors.”

Badin fondly recalls a nickname Hamilton had for him that originated during a competition for who could do the quickest portrait. “We’re all rushing, and [Hamilton] was like, ‘Okay, you’re doing it all wrong. Let me show you how to strike up your portrait in two minutes.’” He then called Badin up to pose and quickly put down some brushstrokes. “Then [Hamilton] was like, ‘Whoa, you could just draw a lemon for your head and then you’re good!’ From then on, it was ‘Lemon Head’!”

“I think one of the most unique aspects of the organization are the characters and personalities that they’re able to recruit, and beyond all that their consistent dedication across the board.”

Badin remembers one of the first client projects he participated in for a clothing brand named Karma Loop. He recalls preparing a portfolio of different clothing designs. “They came in and reviewed the designs we did for them, which was really cool. In hindsight, mine was very corny,” he admitted, “but to have a shot at doing something like that as a random teen, that’s really cool.”

One of Badin’s works from the Painting Studio at AFH.

“Realizing that I could put together an art portfolio and the fact that I had a body of work… it was kind of like putting my experience at AFH in a 10-slide deck.”

Beyond his own college search, Badin also recalls a staircase where Lesley would post the colleges that AFH teens get into. “You see RISD up there, you see Cooper Union, you see Pratt up there, you see MassArt up there. That’s really freaking cool because by all logic, we weren’t going to make it to those institutions and I think AFH really catapults students into those environments.”

“AFH has a tremendous impact, and I wish more people understood the kind of impact AFH has on young teens… It’s unparalleled.”

After Badin graduated high school in 2014, he attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he double majored in Engineering and Portuguese. “I took art classes in college,” Badin remembers. “It helped a ton with some of my drafting classes for my engineering program, so I’m thankful for that,” he said with a chuckle.

“AFH made me a better rounded person, and I had that confidence of being better rounded after I left AFH.”

Now Badin works as a Management Consultant and spends much of his free time volunteering with a number of nonprofit organizations that he benefited from when he was younger, including Thrive Scholars and Janie Scholars. Outside of work, Badin also enjoys organizing occasional Paint Nights for his friends. “It’s great, and I kind of wish I could do it as a side gig!” he said excitedly.

One of Badin’s works from the Painting Studio at AFH.

“At AFH teens learn to talk about not only their work, but themselves, their perspectives, and their reasoning in a very natural way.”

“I think that same skill is exactly what I’m using when I’m doing a presentation to a C level executive now,” Badin says. While he maintains the ability to explain the facts and semantics of a presentation, he also knows how to connect with his audience person to person. “I can try and capture your perspective. I can understand how you see something differently and really navigate and bridge that gap for the two of us,” he said.

“I’m excited to see how those things continue to happen for the next 30-plus years.”

One of Badin’s works from the Painting Studio at AFH.

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