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CHASS Connect Student Participates in Educational Enhancement Program


By Staci Wilson, CHASS Dean’s Office, Student Intern
March 14, 2012

Third year religious studies major, Mary Snow, will be traveling to the Mississippi Delta next fall after earning her B.A. a full year ahead of schedule at UC Riverside. She has been accepted to Teach for America, a national organization of now over 33,000 members, named one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2011.

Since its foundation in 1990, Teach for America has been recruiting leaders on a national scale-- training them, and pairing them with the impoverished school district most in need of their skills. The organization’s mission: to “fuel an educational revolution” and “eliminate educational inequity.”¹ Thus far, the organization’s recruits have changed the educational experience of millions of kids in over forty three communities nationwide, and even founded their own schools in districts that most need their aid.

Miss Snow actually has some instructional experience going into the program based on her experience as a Peer Mentor in UC Riverside’s CHASS Connect program. The program is designed to help first-year students transition smoothly into college life and take full advantage of their university experience. Miss Snow describes being attracted to the program herself as a freshman because it offers a more intimate community of support within the larger (initially overwhelming) framework of the university. Participation in the program gave her the chance to bond with fellow students over the course of an entire year, as opposed to the usual ten weeks. In addition, it proved to be a unique opportunity to become familiar with various faculty members. (Attendance at a certain number of office hours is mandatory for CHASS Connect students each quarter. In addition, professors are generally allotted lower enrollment caps for CHASS Connect courses, allowing more personal and in depth class conversations). Beyond the traditional lecture and discussion setting, CHASS Connect students are offered a weekly series of workshops led by other students, (peer mentors), and designed specifically to target their needs as first-year students. CHASS Connect peer mentors, like Miss Snow, run these weekly workshops, offering first-year students course aid, registration guidance, information on campus resources, and opportunities to become involved on campus. After her own positive experience with CHASS Connect as a freshman, Miss Snow applied to be a peer mentor for the 2011-2012 academic year and has now instructed about 62 first-year students.

Her commitment to Teach for America consists of living in the Mississippi Delta region for two years, where she will teach at the elementary school level. This particular region is currently marked as one of the organization’s priority regions, as many students in the area have already fallen up to two grade levels behind state standards by the time they reach third grade. Undaunted by the statistics, Miss Snow says, “every student has the potential to learn and I want to be a positive force in their lives, helping them through this process.”

¹http://www.teachforamerica.org/our-organization


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