The results are in and after a six-week search for an educator who is inspiring South Florida’s next generation to dream big, think differently and challenge the status quo, 23-year-old Brittany Affolter from the Miami-Dade region of Teach For America, has been selected as Godmother of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Harmony of the Seas.
With this honour, Affolter will join the ranks of renowned athletes, celebrities and royalty when she officially breaks a bottle to name the ship on Nov. 10. Royal Caribbean received nearly 1,000 nominations from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, of which three finalists were selected and voted on by the public to help choose a South Florida hometown hero in education.
“The Godmothers of our ships are remarkable individuals whose life lessons and achievements are rooted in courage, dedication and determination,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Brittany exemplifies these qualities and so much more. We were exceptionally impressed by the passion she has for empowering our youth to believe in a better world and brighter future. She is wise beyond her years, and we can only imagine the accomplishments that she will continue to achieve.”
Affolter pursued a career in education as a way to pay it forward and inspire children in the same way she had been during her early years. She grew up in a challenging home environment where she received little support and guidance, and was able to remove herself from that setting with the help of teachers and mentors. Instead Affolter found the encouragement and inspiration she sought from caring and devoted teachers who believed in her, helping her realize that college was within grasp and that a quality education was essential for a successful, fulfilling life. Ultimately, these teachers advanced her to where she is today.
Affolter has been working with Teach For America Miami-Dade since 2014, engaging classrooms in Title 1 schools across the county that meet the needs of at-risk and low-income students. In order to reach as many kids in Miami as possible for the greatest impact, she now trains teachers at 14 high-need schools in Miami-Dade, serving more than 500 students. In her spare time, she tutors students, is working to become a mentor for children in foster care, and is completing her masters in educational leadership.
After narrowing the selection to three standout finalists, and thanks in part to votes from South Florida residents, Affolter rose to the top as the educator most deserving to be named Godmother of the world’s largest cruise ship. Royal Caribbean will award a $25,000 grant to Teach For America Miami-Dade, funding education initiatives that further Affolter’s mission to inspire the local community’s youth.