College Essay: Kiki Van Landuyt to Attend Ohio University

College Essay: Kiki Van Landuyt to Attend Ohio University

Kiki Van Landuyt, Contributor '23


“Mom and Dad hate 3CDC.” Summer of Junior year, I was a camp counselor. I worked for 3CDC, a non-profit real estate company in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. They interact with the community by holding summer camps, movie nights, and overall renovations in Over the Rhine. I was elated to have a job, paying over minimum wage, as a 17-year-old. I was also happy to have a position working with kids, because I had experience being a camp counselor the summer before at an overnight camp. I settled into the environment nicely, I felt independent as I would walk downtown by myself, rarely feeling unsafe. My campers all came from lower income households, most were there on scholarships, not paying for the camp at all. It was a much-needed insight for a 17-year-old white girl from the “nice part of town.” These kids had shared some upsetting stories with me about the noise of gunshots outside their window, even the park we were based in had a mass shooting that August.

I had thought I was doing a good thing by going there every day with these kids. However, after work one night, I went to a friend’s house for dinner. There I met her cousins, an 11-year-old boy named Jack and a 8 year old girl, Eleanor, both were shy but friendly. As we sat down at the dinner table, I was asked about my job. I boasted about my position at 3CDC. They were unimpressed, Jack told me, “Mom and dad hate 3CDC”. I was speechless. Normally when I explained my job to those around me, they applauded my efforts, this however was not a normal instance. The boy was told to be quiet, that he had misunderstood that his parents did not dislike the company I worked for, though this was most certainly not true. I had never heard such direct criticism of 3CDC before then.

It made me curious as to why 3CDC was so controversial. I started my own research, reading opinion pieces of people who had been displaced by 3CDC as they started renovating older buildings into new more expensive apartments. The rent rates had increased drastically since 3CDC came to town. The more I read, the more I began to wonder: Was I part of the problem? Previously, I thought I was helping a lower income community. With more extensive research, I learned that gentrification was not just a local problem—major cities like Boston and Atlanta were experiencing something similar.

I completed the summer program…but less excited than when I began.

Now when I see a 3CDC logo plastered against an old building, I understand what that means for lower income households, and for kids like Jack. Today I am more aware of gentrification’s effects, and it only took a 5th grader to make me aware of the problem.