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Usher's New Look Virtual Summer Academy: Session 1

On May 29, 2020, DDC STEAM partnered with Usher’s New Look Foundation, which was launched by singer, songwriter, actor, and businessman Usher Raymond IV. Usher founded New Look to provide teens from under resourced communities with a new look on life through education and real-world experiences. The program, which starts in the 8th grade and progresses through high school and college, has four basic pillars: Talent, Education, Service, and Career Readiness. Students who participate in Usher's New Look go on to Higher Education or Job Placement.

The foundation reached out to STEAM to request a career day presentation to launch the first session of Usher’s Virtual Summer Academy. The summer program had the theme: Connecting STEM to the Arts through Imagination, Creativity and Innovation. DDC High School Summer Internship Program, and DDC College Intern alumnus Shakiesha Featherstone spoke to New Look students about her journey as a public school student from East Flatbush, to recent college graduate, to her career as a civil infrastructure engineer. Shakiesha has a BS in Civil Engineering with a minor in environmental engineering. Shakiesha spoke to the students about how she found her spark, the importance of internships and what she had learned through her many internships. She also spoke about the importance of finding mentors that can help guide and encourage you along the way. Shakiesha credits the DDC STEAM team with having mentored her to her present position. She indicated that initially she thought she would be designing building structures, but that she found her passion in civil engineering and infrastructure.

Usher's New Look is about transforming the lives of youth, so they become passion-driven global leaders who change the world. We will continue the important work of helping youth rise above their circumstances and thrive as the leaders they were destined to be,” stated LaToya Henry, NY Program Manager for Usher’s New Look.

“Shakiesha Featherstone represents the best of the best of the NYC Public School System. She is very much like the students of Usher’s New Look. Shakiesha is a superstar. She came to STEAM via the DYCD Ladders for Leaders program as a high school summer intern. Shakiesha was so impressive that we hired her as a college aide immediately after the summer internship program ended. She is an incredible role model for our students. She is super bright, passionate about engineering and a true leader among her peers,“ said Lee Llambelis, DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives.

a photo of Shakiesha Featherstone


Shakiesha Featherstone

A screenshot of Usher's New Look Foundation website


Usher's New Look Foundation Website

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit