Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Martini Madness 2010

Held in October each year, Martini Madness is a celebration of the fall and the start of a new tutoring and mentoring year. This fundraiser, now in its fifth year, takes place at The Store on North Halsted Street (map). This year it will be on Friday, October 1st, from 6:30-9:30pm. $40 per person includes open martini bar, soda, and appetizers.

If you are unable to attend or you are not in Chicago, you can still participate by purchasing (or selling!) raffle tickets. They are $20 each or 3/$50 and prizes include overnight hotel stays and tickets to sporting events (click here for a full list). You do not have to be present to win, so anyone can enter!

You can use our online donation page to register for the event and/or purchase raffle tickets. You may also send a check to Cabrini Connections, 800 W. Huron, Chicago, IL 60642. If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at 312-492-9614.

Thank you so much for your continued support. I hope the stories and pictures in this blog convey the great work we are doing. I would love for each and every one of you to visit our center some day. It would be a pleasure to welcome you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Shuling Yong

Shuling Yong was born and raised on the island nation of Singapore in Southeast Asia. She describes it as “a bustling little city about the size of Chicago,” and since it is near the equator, it feels like summer all year long. Shuling came to the United States three years ago after graduating at the top of her class. She received a scholarship to study anywhere in the world and she chose Northwestern University.

Student Spotlight: Jordan Stephens

First year (first month!) student Jordan Stephens has already established himself as an excellent addition to the Cabrini Connections family. Jordan, who attends tutoring on Wednesday nights after switching from Thursday, has joined two clubs (Art and Tech), is on time to all activities, and has not missed an SVHATS entry (5-for-5). His mentor, Sundi Brewer-Griffin, who Jordan met last week, is a graduate of Northwestern University who intends to help him with math and reading.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Their Own Words

At Cabrini Connections, we have an online communications portal (SVHATS) which is used by students and volunteers to record every session. Students are asked, "What did you work on today?," "What are your goals for this week?,"What is your biggest challenge?," "What is your most recent accomplishment?," and, lastly, for students and volunteers, there is an open feedback field for questions or concerns. Two weeks into the 2010-2011 tutoring season, we have received many great comments. This is a sampling.

  • I had a great time with her. From the one evening that I had spent with her, I could tell that she is a wonderful person. She knows what she wants to do and is very goal oriented.
  • Really organized tonight, so much more so than last year. Seemed like all the speakers knew what was going on. Great start!
  • She seems really motivated to stay on track and I think this will be a great year!
  • I really enjoyed the session and am glad to be back. He was extra talkative tonight.
  • She is a great student and has a great head on her shoulders.
  • My mentee is dedicated and I am impressed with her effort to work on her assignments.
  • She seems like a great girl and I am looking forward to working with her!
  • Things are very well with my mentor he's really cool and have a lot of connections.
  • she's really great i like her!!!!!
  • I think that every thing is going great with my mentor. It could not get better.
  • Nate is the best. He is actually king Nate.. He is always there when i need him. i pretty much love nate.
  • shes listen to me i listen to her and shes gives me great advice i love my mentor
  • I really like my tutor. THE BEST.
  • I LOVE MY TUTOR.! :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Ankit Vadher

Second year volunteer Ankit Vadher (pictured in the thumbnail above) was born and raised in Chicago – the Rogers Park/Ravenswood area – before moving to a northwestern suburb (Wheeling) at age 9. He lives back in the city now, and when asked why he loves Chicago, is almost at a loss for words. “The different neighborhoods… the culture… the people… that friendly Midwestern attitude… there is so much to explore.”

Ankit breezed through high school, graduating in just three years. He regrets the decision now, saying that a full four years of high school helps you truly appreciate what is expected in college. He was not mentally prepared and thus did not take college as seriously as he should have early on.

Nonetheless, Ankit says college was “one of the best experiences of my life.” He graduated from University of Chicago at Illinois (UIC) in 2003 with a double major in finance and information decision systems (IDS). His first job upon graduation was as a bond trader at a proprietary shop.

He traded with partners’ money, so there were no customers per se, and he was able to make trades based on his discretion. All this was done electronically, so he was not on a trading floor, but he was moving plenty of money (millions!). There’s much more to it, so if you are at all interested in stocks and bonds, talk to Ankit!

Now, Ankit works on the other side, for a company that makes trading platforms for traders. He has worked there for five years in three different positions. Currently, he is a relationship manager for all clients in the Midwest.

In his spare time, Ankit likes to work out (especially running), hang out with friends (hosting parties), and cook (“experimentally”). He also loves traveling. “Next stop: Eastern Europe.”

Ankit is South Asian and culture is a big part of his life. He says, from a young age, “it was all about education and schooling.” The expected trajectory for kids is to become a doctor or engineer, get married, and have a family. Job security is very important, which is partly why he is no longer a trader (a job he loved).

At Cabrini Connections, Ankit co-leads Art Club, which meets on Monday nights from 5:30-7pm. They work with pastels, watercolor, pencil… whatever you want! This year they plan to screen-print t-shirts, collaborate with Video Club on a photo project, and more. How do you join? Just show up!

Ankit’s advice for students is, “Try to live outside your comfort zone and you will experience a lot more in life.” He also says, “Don’t have expectations. Expectations take the joy out of life.” You are a wise man, Ankit. We appreciate your service.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Student Spotlight: Avery Harris-Russell

First year student Avery Harris-Russell is a 9th grader at Ogden International High School. His favorite subject is social studies because, “I love talking about what happened in the past,” and, “I want to know what my ancestors went through.” This reminds me of a famous quote from James Baldwin: "If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Training Camp, Preseason lead to Week 1 Win

It has been a September to remember at Cabrini Connections. I apologize for my lack of posts recently, but I assure you, I have been keeping busy with the start of the 2010-2011 tutoring season. I am very excited to be returning for a second year as Assistant Coach, during which time I can build on existing relationships and ideas while also meeting new people and exploring new possibilities. Cabrini Connections began its 18th year last week, and EL Da' Sheon ("Coach Nix") and I are determined to make it the best yet.

At the end of last year, we made a commitment to meet over the summer with every student and volunteer who wishes to return to the team. We did this 1) to check-in with matches during what is usually a three month off-season, 2) to receive further feedback about the program and its resources, and 3) to assess all players (students, volunteers, and coordinators). These meetings were tremendously productive and gave us the opportunity to address issues - positive and negative - face-to-face.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Drumroll, please

Last Sunday, Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection held its 1st Annual Tutor/Mentor Jam at darkroom on West Chicago Avenue. Nearly 150 people attended and over $2,000 was raised as five bands performed, a comic MCed, and food was served by Man B Que. Above, listen to Veteran Volunteer Brea Adams speak at the Jam about her experience as a tutor/mentor for Crystal Townsend.

I would like to thank everyone who came out in support of this event, especially my friends, some of whom are pictured below. Tutor/Mentor Jam is strategically timed to take place at the start of the school year when many out-of-school time programs are looking for volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer tutor/mentor, please contact me directly or use our program locator to find a program near you. Thank you!