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SMC connects with summer program in Utah

| Monday, February 3, 2014

Saint Mary’s students interested in summer service may want to consider applying for the Holy Cross Ministries Utah Summer Program in Salt Lake City.

The Sisters of the Holy Cross in Utah are looking for enthusiastic, service-minded students to help with a summer education program for elementary school-aged children.

“It’s something we have been doing for quite some time,” Sr. Mary Ann Pajakowski, director of education for Holy Cross Ministries, said. “The summer service program gives students the opportunity to engage in more outreach projects.”

Office of Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) representative Erika Buhring said the Sisters run the program for approximately 200 elementary school children in first through fifth grade during the summer months.

The Utah Summer Program is the College’s largest summer service program. While other summer opportunities generally allow students to spend a couple weeks doing service, this opportunity spans a period of eight weeks.

The Utah Program currently offers students numerous opportunities for education experience, including working with children on mathematics, creating fun activities and going to the pool.

Junior Meaghan Garofalo said her favorite experience involved taking the students to the pool and helping them learn how to swim. She also said she enjoyed working with the Sisters of the Holy Cross and spending time with them and her fellow peers in the program.

“It’s hard to choose one favorite activity,” Garofalo said. “The entire Utah program was just amazing.”

According to the OCSE application, college participants are provided housing through Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame alumni who live in the area. Host families provide interns with both housing and meals.

Garofalo said she was placed with a graduate of Saint Mary’s and appreciated the opportunity to connect with an SMC alumna.

The experience was humbling, Garofalo said.

“Many of the children that I worked with were in hard situations, but they highly valued obtaining their education,” she said.

According to the OCSE application, the population of the area is largely Latino, and knowledge of Spanish is helpful.

“The students we worked with were adorable and incredible,” Garofalo said. “So many of them were bilingual [in English and Spanish], but continually, they were working their hardest to improve their language skills.”

Buhring said interns are expected to manage a group of about 12 kids, plan the programs and provide a different theme every week.

Despite the large number of applicants, OCSE only selects two Saint Mary’s students to participate in the program. The deadline for applying to the Utah Summer Service Program is March 7, 2014.

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About Chelsey Fattal

Senior at the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College. Major in Hydrology - Environmental Geosciences with a concentration in International Development. After studying abroad in Argentina for 6 months (spring 2015), I have also fulfilled a minor in Spanish. Writer for the Notre Dame and Saint Mary's Observer

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