SCSD Students Benefit from College Mentor Visits

     Published on 5/17/16   Tagged under:    District News    Community Service    Ed Smith    Grant Middle School    HW Smith K-8 School    Seymour Dual Language Academy   

Across the SCSD, students in elementary and middle school are benefitting from visits with college students. At HW Smith, Ed Smith and Grant, about 40 Syracuse University students rotate through seventh and eighth grade classrooms, talking with students about peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and making smart decisions. The group hopes to expand into three more middle schools in the near future.
The SU students, led by SU Student Association member Obi Afriyie, engage the students in themed jeopardy games, ‘what would you do’ scenarios and more.
“I grew up as an only child in Brooklyn, in a district like the Syracuse City School District,” SU sophomore Obi Afriyie said. “I didn’t have a mentor at their age. They’re exposed to so much—it’s one thing to hear about drugs and alcohol from your teachers, but we’re 19 and 20 years old and we’re in college. I feel like when we talk to them, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Plus, I hope we bring that exposure to the university and show them that we care and that there are so many opportunities open to them.”
At Seymour, students from Colgate University’s “Brothers of Colgate University” group visit with kindergarten and first graders every other week to read with students and serve as classroom helpers.
Seymour kindergarten teacher Catherine Stratton said her goal, like Obi’s, was to provide positive influences and expose students to the idea of college.
“We thought it would be good for the kindergarteners to be exposed to students at the college level,” she said. “Most programs like this focus on older students, but it's good for even our youngest students to be thinking about college as a goal and possibly pathway for their future. They'll also have this experience with a local college and that knowledge of what college is.”
The Colgate students have spoken with kindergarten students about their majors and explained to the kids that when they go to college, they can choose what they want to study. From the college students’ perspective, they were just glad to be seen as positive male examples for the younger children.
“We want to be that positive figure to them and help them see what’s ahead for them,” Colgate freshman Zach Lee said.
“Being that positive influence to them is good—we know it can go a long way,” sophomore Andrew Vallejos added.
Thank you to the Syracuse University and Colgate students who give their time to positively impact our SCSD students!