This fall at UALR, making a difference in the life of child is earning some students class credit.
Dr. Juliana Flinn, professor of anthropology and director of the American Humanics program, has created “Mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas.” Each student will be matched with a client of the organization, a year-long commitment. “Research indicates that a few months of having a mentor is worse for a child than never having a mentor,” said Flinn.
Christel Cater, Vice President of Marketing for Big Brothers Big Sisters said the organization is excited about this new partnership with UALR and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “Dr. Flinn approached BBBS with a syllabus she had created for this class,” said Cater. “Not only has this opportunity helped us find more Bigs, but it has provided the students a chance to learn about service in the community.”
Students in the three-hour credit class must go through the volunteer application process and will keep journals of their mentoring experiences. Possible activities students can engage in with their “littles” include volunteeri ng to help in the child’s classroom, learn about an outreach resource that would be beneficial to the “little’s” family or participating in other activities together in the school setting.
Lakresha Diaz, a liberal arts major from Little Rock, said that her experience as a student in the class is teaching her to be more open-minded about other cultures. “I am concerned about children, especially boys who seem to be falling further and further behind in school every year,” Diaz said. “I thought BBBS is a good solution. Getting class credit for volunteering was a great incentive to get involved now.”
For Jessica Perren of Little Rock, an anthropology/studio art major and American Humanics minor, the UALR and BBBS collaboration provided a unique opportunity to pass on the invaluable contribution mentors can make in the life of a child. “Thinking about my own childhood, I thought about the impact of having the adult interaction of my grandparents, aunts and uncles in my life, and two specific teachers in elementary school and high school that acted as mentors and role models,” said Perren. “Sometimes kids just need more adult interaction to send them positive messages besides the tons of messages they get from peers, and commercials and advertisements.”
Cater said that the class will have a long-lasting impact on its students. “Students in this class will come to understand the benefits of volunteering on a deeper level and want to stay involved with the child after the class is over,” said Cater. “When you’re making a difference in the life of a child, everyone wins.”
Please click each thumbnail to view the full-size photo:
Left: Leigh Anne James, of White Hall, with Alexia
Middle: Heather McNally, of Greenbelt, Maryland, with Daelontiss
Right: Latonia Mitchell, of Little Rock, with Marquisia