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OA Seeking Mentors for Middle School Students


OA Seeking Mentors for Middle School Students


Operation Achievement provides Southwestern students with the opportunity to work with the people they were not too long ago—junior high students.

The program has existed at Southwestern for 29 years. OA is a partnership between SU and Georgetown Independent School District.

“OA pairs committed college students with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders in order to facilitate both academic and personal success through goal setting and targeted, innovative instruction and enrichment experiences,” said Jeanette Montalvo, OA Coordinator.

Middle school students are bused to SU on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for weekly OA sessions. Each student is assigned an SU student as a mentor.

“As a mentor, you get to build bonds with kids and learn more about yourself in the process,” noted sophomore Matt Pagano, Staff Supervisor.

During a session, mentors help mentees with their homework and then participate in an educational enrichment activity.

“Enrichments are activities that all of the mentors and mentees do together that focus on learning outside of the classroom,” said junior Sarah Surgeoner, Staff Supervisor. “The different enrichments are geared toward various school subjects and practical life skills—but most of all they are fun.”

Past enrichments have included science experiments, CPR training, cultural dances, origami, gardening, art projects and team building activities.

“Really the best part of OA is the special bond mentors are able to create with their mentee,” noted Staff Supervisor Denise Sandoval, sophomore. “You are able to be a role model for them and see the difference you make in their lives.”

OA culminates in an end of the year event, All Campus Day, where all of the middle school students come to SU to attend a class with their mentor, eat in the dining hall and tour on-campus housing.

“It’s a really cool opportunity for the middle school students to see what the typical day in the life of a college student is like,” observed Surgeoner. “At least from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.”

OA is currently recruiting new mentors for the 2015-2016 school year. A mentor must commit to a session on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday from 4-6 p.m. Students may receive credit for volunteer hours through OA. 

A training and information session will be held Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. in Olin 302. The first sessions of OA will kick off Sept. 15-17. Returning mentors are not required to attend the training session but should email Montalvo at montalvj@southwestern.edu to confirm their participation for this year.

Students interested in becoming mentors can expect an enriching experience for both personal growth and giving back to the community without even leaving campus.

“My favorite moment of last year was when I was helping my mentee with her math homework and she said I explained the concept better than her teacher,” said Sandoval. “It motivated me and inspired me to work harder to achieve my goals.”

The OA staff at last year's All Campus Day.

The OA staff at last year’s All Campus Day.

Email Montalvo at montalvj@southwestern.edu with any questions.