May 24, 2024 Category: Our Alums

Camp Mariah Alumni Spotlight: Ngozi and Ibraheem

On May 16th, The Fresh Air Fund celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Camp Mariah at the annual Spring Benefit at the Ziegfeld Ballroom. Fresh Air Fund alum and Board member,  June Ambrose, hosted the event. More than 550 Fresh Air friends and supporters gathered to honor award-winning, singer, songwriter and producer, Mariah Carey, who is also a member of The Fund’s Board, and corporate honoree, Winston & Strawn LLP in recognition of the firm’s volunteerism and pro bono services. This year’s event raised $1.9 million to support The Fresh Air Fund’s programs for New York City youth!

The evening was full of special moments, including inspiring words from Board member Mariah Carey and an incredible tap-dance performance from Chloé Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies. A highlight for many was hearing the impactful stories from two Camp Mariah alumni, Ngozi Oghedo and Ibraheem Best-Adeleke.  

Both Ngozi and Ibraheem have had a remarkable journey since first attending camp, and their futures are certainly bright. Here are their stories! 

Ngozi Oghedo 

Ngozi shares how Camp Mariah impacted her life and helped her develop confidence.

It started with a song. A lifelong fan of Mariah Carey, Ngozi first found The Fresh Air Fund through the “Always Be My Baby” music video. which was filmed at Camp Mariah. Watching her idol soar over a crystal-clear lake in a tire swing while singing about self-discovery sparked something inside of Ngozi: she wanted to go to camp! 

“I begged my mom to find out more,” shared Ngozi. “She signed up my three siblings and me because she was committed to us continuing our education during the summer months.” 

At Camp Mariah, Ngozi went on overnight hikes, pitched tents, made s’mores and even learned how to swim. 

“Camp Mariah encouraged me to step into my identity. It was the first time I saw who I could be on my own, a new kind of independence that I had never experienced before.” 

Ngozi in her cabin at Camp Mariah.

One of her favorite parts of camp was the time spent in the dance studio. Through choregraphing different routines, she was able to further her creativity and confidence on stage. This confidence helped guide her personally and professionally. After several life-changing summers at camp, she went on to graduate from Barnard College of Columbia University with a B.A. in economics. She currently works as a Financial Product Sales Relationship Manager at Bloomberg LP. 

“As a Black woman navigating corporate America, specifically finance, I’ve seen firsthand that there are so few of us in the room; however, the fearlessness that I cultivated at camp has helped me persevere through adversity and drive efforts for more diversity and inclusion in the financial industry,” said Ngozi. 

Ngozi meeting her idol and Fresh Air Fund Board member, Mariah Carey.

Ngozi shared that to this day, Mariah Carey’s music serves as the soundtrack of her life. Songs like “Make It Happen,” “Anytime You Need a Friend” and “Can’t Let Go” remind her of the countless lessons she took away from her experience at camp, such as learning to face her fears, support others and honor her ambitions.  

Ibraheem Best-Adeleke

Ibraheem sharing his experiences as a camper and CIT at Camp Mariah.

Unlike Ngozi, Ibraheem didn’t have the same initial enthusiasm for camp. However, like Ngozi, Ibraheem had the same, life-changing experience. 

At 12 years old, Ibraheem’s mother signed him up for camp. His concerns were substantial. What about missing his friends? Or his home in Brooklyn? Or, and most importantly, his phone? 

“I have to admit, at first, I was not excited,” Ibraheem shared. “Little did I know – that summer would lead to so many opportunities.” 

Camp began with a common case of homesickness, but quickly was cured by time spent canoeing on the lake, hiking the trails, seeing the animals at the Camp Model Farm and perfecting his aim in archery. 

“I was so busy that I forgot to be homesick! Though I also forgot to write letters to my mom because I was having so much fun,” said Ibraheem. 

Ibraheem and his fellow CITs bonded quickly over the summer!

Ibraheem learned important skills both at camp and through The Fund’s year-round programs, inlcuding the Career Awareness Program, College Connections Program and Circle of Brotherhood. From attending job shadowings to mentoring groups, he built skills and explored options for his future. 

“I dedicated countless school nights to meeting with mentors and tutors at the office. All that hard work paid off because this fall, I will be attending Syracuse University and majoring in computer science.” 

Ibraheem was joined by his mother, Kim, at the Spring Benefit.

After several summers as a camper, Ibraheem returned to camp last summer as a counselor-in-training (CIT). Taking on this new roles presented both challenges and opportunities, helping Ibraheem to develop his leadership skills and connect with his fellow CITs.  We are so excited that he will be returning to Camp Mariah as a counselor this summer!

We are incredibly proud of Ibraheem and Ngozi’s accomplishments and thank them for sharing their stories with us! Learn more about Camp Mariah and the Career Awareness Program here and watch our new Camp Mariah video here