Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Charles Wynn

First year mentor Charles Wynn was born in Syracuse, New York, but his family moved to Toledo, Ohio when he was in sixth grade and he had to make all new friends. He was also subject to culture shock because he moved from an all-black neighborhood to one which is predominately white. He says, “It helped me out in life,” though. “It taught me that the world is bigger than your community.”

Charles describes himself as a friendly kid who loved to play sports. He is the youngest of four siblings, which he says was always a pro. “I got everything I needed… [and] there were a lot of mistakes I didn’t have to go through.” But, like most kids, Charles wanted to grow up, and having three older siblings only made the urge stronger.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Student Spotlight: Breonca Hyles

Thursday night mentee Breonca “Bebe” Hyles is from the Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago. She has enjoyed the start of her junior year at Crane High School, but says it has been challenging with the added pressure of the ACT test. Her favorite subject is history, mainly because she has a good teacher, while her toughest subject is science, though she still enjoys it.

Her tip for 7th & 8th graders who will soon be freshman in high school is: “stay on track”/”don’t fall off.” It’s important to get off to a good start so you can maintain a good record throughout high school. The first class you take and the last class you take effect your GPA in the same way.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Four weeks from today

Tutor/Mentor Connection will host its 32nd biannual Tutor/Mentor Leadership & Networking Conference on Friday, November 19th at U.S. Cellular Field where the Chicago White Sox play. We expect about 100 program leaders, volunteers, and stakeholders at the conference, but the average White Sox game draws 27,000 people!

Though we won't have that many attendees at the conference, I know we have that many fans. Thousands of youth in this city benefit directly from tutor/mentor programs and all 2.9 million of us benefit indirectly from a more educated, healthy, and prepared workforce. Tutor/mentor programs teach academic skills which lead to educational success, but they also teach intangible skills which create better human beings. To view Cabrini Connections' 2009-2010 Student Character Report, click here. It shows some of these outcomes I speak of.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Melissa Iwami

Thursday night Volunteer Coordinator Melissa Iwami (seen here with EL at Martini Madness) was born and raised in Lombard, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. She is an only child and admits, “I always got a lot of my parents’ attention.” She says it was “good and bad,” but she thinks she has a much better relationship with her parents because of it. She loved growing up near a big city and has always been outgoing and talkative. She has relatives in different neighborhoods of the city who exposed her to a lot at a young age.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Student Spotlight: Alexis Spears

14-year-old Alexis Spears is an 8th grader at Franklin Fine Arts Center. Her favorite subject is science because she enjoys working in the lab. She is also good at math, but isn’t quite ready to say she likes it. At school she is part of the music and dance clubs. She is also on the volleyball team.

For high school, Alexis would like to attend UIC College Prep, a campus of Noble Street Charter School. Long term, she is interested in working with kids as a pediatric nurse. She babysits a lot and is the oldest of many siblings, which means she has been informally training for her dream job for years.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Northwestern University College Visit

Yesterday, on a day off from school (Columbus Day), 23 students from Cabrini Connections visited Northwestern University in Evanston. Myself, EL Da' Sheon, and Karina, all alumni of Northwestern, chaperoned the trip. We were also joined by former volunteer, and forever an advocate for the program, Stephanie Rogers.

This was the largest group we've ever had for a college visit, which I believe is a result of a renewed commitment to the program in 2010-2011 and is a testament to the success of our College Zone. Our vision is that every child who joins a tutor/mentor program in 7th or 8th grade is starting a job and career of his or her choice by age 25, and trips like this fit directly in with that. In order for our youth to fulfill this year's theme, "My Dreams are My Reality!", they need to see themselves on a campus, eating lunch, walking through a dorm, acting like any other student. This is the reality they some day hope to achieve.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Student Spotlight: Kanah Bradley

Kanah Bradley grew up on the south side of Chicago before moving to the north side, where she lives now, when she was 10. She has two siblings: one sister (28) and one brother (26). As much as she loves the city, Kanah, who is a senior at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, wants to move out of state for college. Her dream school is Duke University, but she is also interested in Cornell, Howard, Stanford, and, after this week’s college visit, Northwestern.

Volunteer Spotlight: Matt Golden

Wednesday night mentor Matt Golden grew up on the North side of Chicago in the Old Irving neighborhood. He is an only child and his parents still live on the northwest side. Matt says it was great growing up in Chicago because he enjoys the hustle and bustle of a big city. His favorite time of the year is the summer: “Seeing everyone out… going to the beach; to Cubs games… it makes the winters tolerable.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Student Spotlight: Cantrell Strauther

13-year-old Cantrell Strauther (seen above in Video & Filmmakers Club) is in the 8th grade at Lincoln School. His favorite subject is science because of the labs and projects. His most recent experiment involved making gas burn. (Be careful!) Cantrell’s least favorite subject is math, but he cites his mentor, Jeremy Brown, for helping him get better. They meet together on Thursday nights and have done so since March 2010.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jeremy Brown

Second year volunteer Jeremy Brown (right, at 2010 Art Festival) grew up in Peoria, Illinois; the sixth largest city in Illinois with a population of over 110,000. He spent the first 23 years of his life there, which means he went to college in the area. Jeremy graduated from Bradley University in 2002 with a degree in Manufacturing Engineering. Bradley is an “awesome, smaller school” with about 5300 undergraduate students. He appreciated its low teacher-to-student ratio because it allowed for more discussion in classes and for him to ask questions.