ELG students to mentor

By Sobia Siddiqui

Starting this month, four Baylor students will be mentoring at the Juvenile Probation Center as an optional fourth semester of the Science of Society Engaged Learning Group.

Students took a field trip to the detention center in their third semester.

Because of expressed interest, mentoring for the center was opened as an option for a fourth semester.

“The goal is for our kids to help them and try to get them on the right path,” Randy Jacobs, lecturer of sociology at Baylor, said.

Jacobs said the student mentors may have trouble reaching their students, but said he believes that will change over time.

“At first these kids are not receptive to having someone come in and talk to them,” Jacobs said. “Eventually the kids love seeing their mentor. Hopefully they’ll break them down a little bit.”

One of the students mentoring through the program is sophomore Beftu Teklu, a speech pathology pre-med major from Keller.

Teklu said she is not sure what to expect, but she believes there will be a positive outcome.

“I just felt like I could really help them,” Teklu said.

“I think we’ll be able to learn about people’s lives and give advice, and help their lives.”

Center junior A’mie Preston, a psychology major, will also volunteer as a student mentor.

Preston said she believes volunteering will help her decide whether she wants to major in child or adult psychology.

Katherine Davis, community relations coordinator for the Texas Youth Commission, said these mentors can do a lot for the students at the center.

“They have an opportunity to provide positive support, encouragement, motivation,” Davis said. “It’s like life-coaching.”

Davis said there is a lengthy process involved in becoming a mentor to ensure the students at the center come in contact with positive and safe role models.

Those interested in volunteering must complete an application form and background check.

Once the background checks are cleared, potential volunteers are fingerprinted and provide at least three reference letters nonfamily members.

After these requirements have been met, volunteers must go through orientation and training before they are assigned a student from the center.

Mentors are required to meet with their students at least four times a month, for a minimum of six months.

Jacobs said students will start volunteering this semester, break for the summer and then complete their mentoring when they come back in the fall.

The students will be required to keep a journal and record their time with the students at the center.

Jacobs said she believes this mentoring project will help Baylor students grow and help the students in the center make better decisions when they are released.

“I think our kids will just be very appreciative. I think they’re going to realize that not everyone is as fortunate as them,” Jacobs said.

“Our goal is that once they get out, they don’t go back in.”