A group of UTC Sociology students recently began a mentorship program with 9th and 10th grade students at Chattanooga Girl’s Leadership Academy (CGLA). The students, from a Sociology of Education course taught by Dr. Shela Van Ness, were put through background checks and training to receive certification for the program. Each UTC student mentor was paired with one student from CGLA.

The mentors are able to provide tutoring as well as simply talking and listening to the students, providing encouragement and leadership for the girls as they inch closer towards graduation and college.

Charity Moore, a Senior Psychology major, was paired with a member of the CGLA choir who wants to enter into the medical field.

“This first time, we just sat and talked about her social life, her classes, and what she wants to do in college. A lot of time, at that age they just want someone to listen to them. She wants to be a doctor once she gets older, so I am going to help her get in touch with some faculty members at Vanderbilt so she can learn more about the process,” said Moore.

For Alex Maurer, a Senior Communications major, being a mentor is just as beneficial to him as the student he is helping.

“My student is originally from Guatemala, and with how diverse Chattanooga and the world are becoming, it’s great to be able to talk and listen to her and see all the similarities and differences between us. She told me that she wanted more encouragement and leadership, and I think by us being only a few years older than the students that we can offer good advice and perspective to them,” said Maurer.

Besides meeting up with the students one on one during the week, they will also go on group trips such as to the Chattanooga Zoo. Besides teaching the class, Van Ness, Associate Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Geography, also provided the training for the mentor certification.

“Research show that kids who are mentored graduate high school at a higher rate, are more likely to enroll in college, abuse drugs and alcohol less frequently, and also tend to act as a mentor when they are older,” said Van Ness.

For more information about the mentorship program, contact Dr. Shela Van Ness at shela-vanness@utc.edu and (423)-425-4598.

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