Students Collaborate with Local Youth for Mentoring Program
The application of real world concepts is extremely important in the learning process. Through a senior capstone class, sociology students at Lebanon Valley College have the opportunity to apply what they have learned throughout their four years while making an impact in the lives of local youth.
Sharon Arnold, chair of the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department, helped create this unique learning experience through a partnership with the Youth Advocate Program (YAP) in Lebanon a few years ago.
“This program and class provides opportunities to work with kids who can use good role models in their life,” said Mason Hoff ’18, a student currently enrolled in the course.
As part of the class, LVC students are paired with groups of Lebanon youth who are enrolled in the YAP program. They also collaborate with a member of the local workforce, known as an opportunity advisor, to work on a semester-long project. The LVC students meet with the YAP groups and mentor them as they build this project, learning skills necessary for success along the way.
“The work we do gives both the kids and us new skills that can be used down the road. Our group is learning how to create websites, a very valuable skill in the workplace,” said Hoff.
A primary focus of the YAP program is to allow the youth involved to build a strong social network of supportive individuals to mentor them, and to provide educational and career opportunities in the future.
“We try to change their perspective on situations and provide opportunities by having a connection to the community and the College,” said Rebecca Tanz ’17, an alumna who was enrolled in the course last year.
The mentorship from LVC students gives the youth someone to look up to and develop a connection with that can go beyond the semester. The YAP program strives to show them that through good social connections and education, achieving success in the workforce is very realistic for them.
“Working with college students shows the kids that college is attainable, that people care, and that they can achieve their dreams,” said Ryan Maraldo ’18, another student in the course.
The YAP youth are not the only ones learning throughout this program. The course allows LVC students to reflect on their lives, and even have their own perspective changed.
“I think it is easy to get caught up in everything that is going on in our own lives. After participating in the YAP program, you get to see a different perspective. You begin to realize there are people only a few miles away who are living completely different than you,” said Tanz.