Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Alternative Spring Breaks!

With Spring Break coming up in the next few weeks, we thought we would offer our students a way to engage in volunteerism while taking a break from studies. Alternative Spring Breaks are trips where a group of college students engage in volunteer service that focus on a particular social issue such as poverty, the environment, or education reform. Students learn about the social issues and then perform week-long projects with local non-profit organizations. Alternative breaks are great because you get to travel and work with a group of peers for a week, all while creating an impact in the community!

What you stand to gain
·         Travel You can travel to new communities and meet new people
·         Involvement These trips are great ways to become more involved in school and in your community
·         Savings Alternative Breaks are often considerably less expensive (if not totally free, covered by student government) than traditional Spring Break trips
·         Experience Serving with an Alternative Spring Break is a great way to gain leadership experience

Quality components of an Alternative Break
Strong Direct Service: Should provide an opportunity for participants to engage in direct or “hands on” projects and activities that address unmet social needs, as determined by the community.

Orientation: Alternative breakers learn about the purposes and goals of their community partners with which they will be working.

Education: Breakers learn about the complexity of the social issue through reading materials, speaker panels, documentaries, and guest lecturers related to current trends and historical context. A strong educational foundation for the trip will contribute to a meaningful service experience.

Training: Breakers are provided with adequate skills necessary to carry out service projects during their trip. This may include learning physical skills, such as construction or maintenance skills, as well as interpersonal communication, such as interacting with children, sensitivity training, working with people with disabilities, trail building, etc.

Reflection: During the trip participants process the service work as it connects to the broader social issue. Groups set aside time for reflection to take place individually and as a group.

Reorientation: After students return to campus, reorientation activities allow participants to talk about issues with others on campus, learn about local volunteer and civic involvement opportunities, and brainstorm other means to benefit their local community. Reorientation (the post-trip application of the experience) is the essential purpose of an alternative break - to provide a platform for participants to work towards lifelong active citizenship.

Diversity and Social Justice: Strong alternative break programs include diverse representation of students from the campus community and direct exposure to studying social justice issues
Many students who return from an alternative break experience consider it a life changing event. Alternative break alumni have reported changing their major, increasing their campus involvement, committing to continued community service, actively staying updated on social issues, and joining a service program post-graduation such as AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or Teach for America. Many return to participate and lead alternative break programs throughout their time as students.

An impact analysis conducted in 2001 by Dr. Pushkala Raman and her Marketing Research Class at Florida State University in conjunction with Break Away (www.alternativebreaks2013.org) revealed that there is overwhelming evidence to support the view that alternative breaks are “indeed contributing to the creating of active citizens.”

Many schools coordinate Alternative Spring Breaks for their students, so if you are interested in taking part in a trip this spring, check with your Student Government or Community Outreach office.  You may also want to check out the following link for more organizations which offer their own Alternative Spring Breaks:  studenttravel.about.com/od/springbreakvolunteers/qt/alternate_sprin.htm

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Internship Opportunity - Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

Throughout the year, we have been blogging about the importance of internships for professional development and networking opportunities. Internships are a great way to gain experience in your field, build your resume, and make connections with future employers. On a personal level, internships are also a great way to travel, earn some money, and make new friends!

This past summer, I applied and was selected to intern with the United States Census Bureau as a Statistician through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) National Internship Program (HNIP). It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that has helped me grow as a student, professional, and individual. I encourage Take Stock in Children graduates to apply for this amazing opportunity

Fellow HACU interns and I

in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC

(second to the right, second row)
THE SCOOP The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) is a non-profit organization that was established in 1986. The HACU National Internship Program (HNIP) is an internship program that places students in federal and corporate internships in the summer, spring, and fall of each year. HNIP was started in 1992 with only 24 students and one internship site. Today, HNIP serves nearly 700 students per year at over 40 internship sites nationwide!

BENEFITS One of the best parts about HNIP? It’s paid! There are different pay scales based on your education level/year in college (i.e. sophomore, junior, senior, graduate student) ranging from $470 -$570/week. Additional benefits include airfare provided to and from your internship site, orientation in Washington, DC (with travel and lodging provided), housing arranged by HNIP staff, opportunities to live in another city, and of course, opportunities for professional development.

Exploring the beautiful National Mall

OPPORTUNITIES Personally, many of my friends from the program were signed on to full-time positions through their internship site. HNIP has a variety of Federal partners, including the Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce, Office of Personnel Management, US Census Bureau, Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and more. In terms of corporate partners, HNIP interns have been placed with companies such as Apple, Sodexho, Lockheed Martin, and IBM. Students come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from business, mathematics, journalism, and sociology, so there is a place for everyone! While the majority of interns work in Washington DC, other potential sites include Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Boston, Massachusetts; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Seattle, Washington. If you are looking for the opportunity to live abroad, this is the program for you.

CHECK IT OUT I made so many friends through this program that I am still in touch with today. Because interns are coming from all over, I now have friends from California, Texas, DC, and even Puerto Rico. At a recent graduate school interview in Boston, I was asked about my experience with statistics, a pertinent skill for the field I wish to pursue; needless to say, my interviewers were quite impressed that I worked as a Statistician with the US Census Bureau. HACU has provided me with lifelong friends and experiences to cherish for years to come. I encourage all TSIC students to check out this program for a great opportunity to live abroad and enrich your life.

For more info and eligibility, please email awhitcomb@takestockinchildren.org or visit
www.hacu.net for more info!

-Allie Whitcomb
AmeriCorps College Success Coach


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Recuerdo Madrid – Greetings from Madrid!

A first generation college student, Take Stock in Children graduate and 2012 Leaders 4 Life (L4L) Fellow, Alfonso Mejia represents what the TSIC model is all about: when students are provided with support, motivation and accountability, they will excel personally and academically.

A 2012 graduate from Charles W. Flanagan High School in Broward County, Alfonso Mejia is the first person in his family to pursue a college degree.  President of his high school class for all four years, he graduated within the top 2% of his class.  He aims to continue his involvement with student government at the University of Florida, where he is currently studying Accounting and Finance and plans on going to law school to become a lawyer and work in the non-profit sector. 

In an attempt to make the most of his college experience, Alfonso is currently studying abroad at Antonio de Nebrija University in Madrid, Spain through UF’s School of Business.  Alfonso’s family is Colombian, so he is fluent in Spanish, but in an effort to perfect the language and gain an appreciation of the culture, he enrolled in the highest level Spanish course offered.  He explains, “Part of the reason I chose [to study abroad in] Spain was because I wanted to master my Spanish and have a solid foundation [of the language].  Second to English, the Spanish language plays a significant role in the business world and is almost essential [to know].”

Refining his Spanish is just one component to his experience abroad, as he will also have the opportunity to teach children once a week and volunteer to feed the homeless.  “Living abroad has taught me to value other cultures and ways of life.”  It is this altruistic and motivated spirit that sets Alfonso apart, making him a great example of what being a Leaders 4 Life Fellow is all about.

The Leaders 4 Life Fellowship was created in partnership with the Asofsky Family Foundation and recognizes TSIC students who have emerged as leaders.  Of L4L, Alfonso says:

Whenever I feel down, I remind myself how fortunate I truly am.  Being a L4L Fellow means to me a life-long commitment of gratitude and generosity.  The L4L Fellowship was created through genuine principles that must be reciprocated by the fellows.  For now, we must focus on our studies and finish strong, but when we are done with school we must remember where we came from and who gave us the opportunity to be what we will become in the upcoming years.  I plan on giving back to society in the same way that L4L does: giving a student the power of an education.

In the future, Alfonso plans on mentoring youth, starting his own scholarship fund similar to the Leaders 4 Life Fellowship, and one day hopes to be on the Take Stock in Children Board of Directors.  We are so proud of all of Alfonso’s accomplishments and wish him buena suerte – good luck – for the rest of his semester abroad in Spain!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Importance of Mentoring our Youth


The term " At risk " is a cliche that is thrown around loosely when describing certain demographic of youth.  I found an article written about mentoring at risk youth that I felt is a great read.

Here is an excerpt from the article, " Mentoring At Risk Students"

Mentoring caught the  public's  attention  in  the late 1970s
when the Harvard Business Review  published two articles
on mentoring in the business setting. The first (published in
1978) was titled "Everyone Who Makes It Has a Mentor."'
In  it  three foodchain executives  were interviewed about
their careers (the generalization implied by the title was left
unsubstantiated).  The second2 presented data collected  on
successful executives  and  found  that  two-thirds reported
having  had  a mentor.  On average, those in the study who
had mentors were likely to earn more at a younger age, be
better educated, and be more satisfied with their jobs and
careers. After  these  articles, subsequent writings focused
mainly  on  the importance  of  mentors in teaching career
skills (like networking) to young  professionals or in fur-
nishing certain keys to "success."
In the  1980s the mentoring focus shifted to an educational
setting.  The I  Have  a Dream  (IHAD)  program began  in
1981 when multimillionaire  Eugene Lang spoke before an
East Harlem (New York City) sixth-grade class and offered
the students college  tuition  guarantees if  they  completed
high school.  (IHAD includes  a  mentoring component  in
addition to the tuition g~arantee.)~  The event set off  a new
wave of mentoring programs in public high and junior high
schools, mainly  to combat high dropout rates and  encour-
age  postsecondary  school matriculation. Mentoring pro-
grams  are  also found  at the  college  or  university level,
where  they  exist  chiefly  to  encourage students to stay in
school or to direct students toward  certain career options.
Mentors for both secondary school youth and college stu-
dents  are usually  seen  as serving  as role models  and  are
implicitly charged  with  helping students navigate the
school or university system.

For the full article please click on the link below


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Scholar Spotlight: Ha Tran's Travels to Ghana!

Photo from www.uniteforsight.org

Originally from Santa Rosa County, Ha Tran is a Take Stock in Children alumna and was named a Leaders 4 Life fellow in 2011.  In her second year at Duke University, Ha is majoring in neuroscience with a concentration in global health.  Her focus on global health has led her to become involved with the organization Unite for Sight, and will culminate in an eight week trip to Ghana, Africa this coming summer.

Ha writes, “I started looking into this program though my global health course here at Duke. Our yearlong case study focused on an NGO and I chose Unite for Sight.  Aside from the obvious benefits of this program, what I think is most significant is that UFS is quite literally breaking down the barrier for access to health care.”  Ha continues that she has taken a variety of global health courses throughout her time at Duke and finds UFS to be a role model for all other organizations to follow.  “In our class, we looked at everything from tax forms to end-of-the-year reports to analyze the effectiveness of this organization.  As with any program, there are things to be improved. I hope to help improve those aspects during my eight weeks in Ghana.”

Ha will specifically be working in an eye clinic to screen for eye disease, implementing education programs, and assisting in surgery for children and adults.  Traveling to rural villages, she will be providing eye care to those who do not have access to an eye doctor.  Ha’s family emigrated from Vietnam, where there is a saying “Cho ánh sáng,” meaning “the ability to give light.”  Through Ha’s commendable efforts, she will be providing vision, light and hope to the people of Ghana.  Aside from this trip, Ha has also personally collected over 825 glasses to donate and has completed over 30 hours of medical training for this trip, as well as an additional 60 hours of outside training through Unite For Sight and her global health courses at Duke University.  We are so proud of Ha’s efforts, and we encourage you to check out her web page here to learn more about this remarkable program.

If you have any questions about her trip, you can contact Ha at ha.tran@duke.edu or call her at (850) 686-6067.