In the spirit of recognizing volunteers during National Volunteer Week this week, we have special news to share from the Alexandria Achievement Center! Mentor, Julia Malico recently put together a special project for Alexandria Achievement Center scholars, called the “Higher Achievement Motivational T-shirt Project.” Julia, a current senior in high school, is a second year co-mentor with her mother, who mentors because she sees that “sometimes neighborhoods don’t always have the same means that others have” and she wants to “help give scholars opportunities” similar to those she has been given. She enjoys working with her “enthusiastic, hyper and intellectual” scholars, especially when “their brains are in high gear.” She sees how much energy all of the scholars have at the Achievement Center, and how much they want to learn; she sees this in the fact that they are at Higher Achievement three nights per week, on a voluntary basis. For Julia, the most rewarding aspect of mentoring is seeing the scholars succeed:
Seeing scholars think about something for a while, not comprehending it, and then making the connection shows me something I’m doing is making a difference.
Inspiration struck Julia last fall when she was applying to college, after a college night at center. She overheard a scholar share that he wasn’t sure if he would get in to college – that made Julia’s heart drop. Julia sees a clear connection between the work scholars put in during Higher Achievement and their future path to college in that scholars are in the program “to do more than just pass classes, but to do really well, and be successful.”
Julia emailed a letter to fifty area colleges and universities to explain what Higher Achievement does, and why the program is so important. She asked if schools could donate an inspirational and tangible object to give to scholars. She wanted scholars to know that the schools she reached out to, welcome them, their hard work and are supportive of them.
Twenty of the fifty schools responded with overwhelmingly positive feedback. She received hand-written letters, phone calls, towels, flags, and several t-shirts from the schools. All of the schools agreed that middle school is the foundation for high school and postsecondary success, and that Higher Achievement is a special program that supports this path. Scholars had to complete a report card review and reflection with their families and mentors to receive a t-shirt. On the day of t-shirt distribution, scholars put on the t-shirts immediately, and have been wearing them ever since.
We thank Julia and her mother for the way they support our scholars’ academic and personal success. We are grateful for all of our volunteers that mentor our scholars once a week, and especially thankful for those that go above and beyond!
Learn more about our amazing volunteers this National Volunteer Week #NVW2016 by following us on Twitter @HigherAchieve!