This fall, Serenity Roberson will enter the fifth grade at Brown Academy with college on her mind. Mentors in the Positive Action With Success (P.A.W.S.) program spent three days a week with Roberson and 40 additional fourth and fifth graders, providing interpersonal skill development, an introduction to collegiate life and monthly visits to the UTC campus. The Center for Community Career Education at UTC received a grant from the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth to make P.A.W.S. a reality.
“P.A.W.S. is great and is fun. You learn about college. When I get to college I’ll already know a lot about it. My grades improved this year. I had a B in Math and it is now an A. P.A.W.S. and college teaches you how to do your best. I know I’m going to college,” Roberson said.
Roberson’s mother, Jackie Husband, notices the positive influence P.A.W.S. mentors have had on her daughter.
“I’ve seen improvements. Wendy Yates (Project Coordinator) did due diligence with this project as did the mentors. Her heart is with these young people. Serenity always was a follower of the larger crowd. By seeing young adults who look like them and observing the mentor’s positive behavior she began to make decisions this school year that were in her best interest,” Husband said.
Her daughter is achieving in the classroom, Husband observed.
“She never was on the Honor Roll until this year. She always had the potential. She stepped up her game and I think P.A.W.S. had a lot to do with that. She also has some comparisons now that she didn’t have before. When she sees other 18-22 year olds in our neighborhood, she is able to compare them to the UTC mentors and sees a difference. She’s been given a vision of a different world,” Husband said.
Summertime brings a new way for students in the P.A.W.S. program to learn, said Sandy Cole, Director of the Center for Community Career Education.
“The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga provided funding to send these students to Youth University at UTC this summer,” Cole said. “The P.A.W.S students will be attending two weeks and will have a greater opportunity to have a collegiate experience as a result of the Foundation’s support. Our vision is to increase opportunities for elementary youth to envision college as an option.”
Front Row, left to right: Jackie Husband and Serenity Roberson
Back Row, left to right: UTC Student Mentors: Michelle Owens, Christine Milone,
Deidra Bell, Kelly Thrasher, Cassie Martin, Demarco Reynolds.