Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Cathrine Lynnerup

First year mentor Cathrine Lynnerup discovered Cabrini Connections while shopping at Whole Foods Market, where, last year, our program was a One Dime at a Time recipient. (Whole Foods gives 10 cents per bag to customers who re-use their own shopping bags. Customers have the choice to accept their cash refund, or donate the cash back to the store's chosen non profit organization.)

Cathrine works with 8th grader Ayana Martin on Wednesday nights. They started our program in a 2-on-2 match with Cathrine's friend, Cassia Overk, and Ayana's friend, Ana Tate. Cathrine says 2-on-2 is a great way to start, get to know each other, and make things fun, but, after awhile, once you can better discern each student's strengths and weaknesses, working style, etc., it's best to work apart. However, the support will always remain. Ana, who joined Cabrini Connections a year before Ayana, helps Ayana feel comfortable at tutoring sessions, while Cassia helps Cathrine understand the dos and don'ts of mentoring a teenager. Cathrine's #1 tip from her early weeks with Ayana: "you have to be yourself all the time."

Cathine is from Denmark, a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. Its people are frequently rated as the happiest in the world. All education is free up to a master's degree, and, at one point, Cathrine even got paid to go to school! With the addition of a part-time job, she was able to avoid student loans while living a moderate life.

Cathrine studied information technology in school and was an IT consultant in Denmark. IT consultants work with different companies who don't like their IT systems. Consultants show options for a new system and a new way of working. Their job is to get everyone on board and provide continued support. This line of work is rewarding for Cathrine because "you come in three months later and see people happier and into their jobs."

Two years ago, Cathrine moved to Chicago after receiving a green card through the United States' Diversity Lottery. A section of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides a maximum of 55,000 Diversity Visas each fiscal year to be made available to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. Cathrine won in her third year.

Cathrine works as an administrative assistant now and lives in Lincoln Park. She likes Chicago because of its proximity to Lake Michigan. She is somewhat of an outdoor person, especially when it comes to water. Cathrine is a qualified Divemaster (a diver who takes care of a group of divers).

Cathrine doesn't have any New Year's resolutions because, "I try to correct a little earlier." She does, however, offer some great advice: "If you work hard, you can be whatever you want to be, but you have to work on it a little every day." I think that's a great perspective to pass on to kids at Cabrini Connections. Thanks for joining our program, Cathrine! We're happy to have you.

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