Pairing Ursuline College students with Warrensville Heights High School students, the A.R.R.O.W.S. (Academic Readiness Requires Outstanding Work and Support) Program aims to promote success and foster ambition for further education through peer mentoring, and student-led workshops covering topics such as financial aid, the college application process, and goal-setting. In 2013 they received a grant from the Jenzabar Foundation. Let’s see where they are now:
In May 2013 when Ursuline College’s A.R.R.O.W.S. mentoring program accepted the Jenzabar Foundation’s Student Leadership Award, it had fourteen Warrensville High school student mentees, and ten college student mentors. As soon as they returned home from JAM (Jenzabar Annual Meeting), preparation for a spectacular year began. First they brought aboard with them eight more mentors and ten mentees. At A.R.R.O.W.S. first meeting of the 2013-2014 school year, they lugged piles of old magazines and other art supplies into the commuter lounge on Ursuline’s campus, where they created vision boards and their girls connected in a new way with their mentors. Both the mentors’ and mentees’ eyes lit up as they cut and strategically pasted together this collage of their short term and long term goals. They were excited, (some perhaps for the first time for their future). These goals were fast approaching in some students’ opinion, and already in progress to others. But to all their goals were undoubtedly attainable. Students were encouraged to hang their vision boards in their lockers as a daily reminder of why they should do their very best in school.
A.R.R.O.W.S. goal is not only to have fun, but also to individually and collectively learn how to critically think through personal, academic, and community problems. Throughout the year they have come together for various academic and recreational activities such as a career workshop, basketball game, fashion show, and life coaching presentation (see photos). Over the course of the summer, some of the mentees were a part of a video that nearly went viral on Facebook, promoting an “honor roll challenge” (in light of the various popular social media challenges like the “cinnamon challenge” and the “ALS ice bucket challenge”). As honor students, some of the mentees along with their friends publicly challenged their peers to do the same. In fact, during the year, several of the honor student mentee were awarded certificates for their high grades (see photo).
As A.R.R.O.W.S. prepares to add nearly twenty more students and mentors to the program, they are feeling overwhelmed with excitement. They are most excited about the growing support they are receiving from the high school staff. This upcoming year, they hope to increase their presence on campus and in the community as their older high school mentees will explore internship opportunities. Surely they will soon to outgrow their meetings in the College’s commuter lounge, but never their passion for mentorship, community learning experiences, and student leadership.
The Jenzabar Foundation is honored to support Ursuline students and their high school mentees in their aspirations for a successful education in the face of socioeconomic hardships. We are so happy to see that the grant has been a help and look forward to seeing what happens next.
Author: Jamie Carter & Jimeka Holloway