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Robinson Community Learning Center celebrates 15 years

| Friday, February 19, 2016

Janice Chung | The Observer

For the past 15 years, the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC), located in South Bend’s northeast neighborhood, has been running programs for local students in an effort to promote academic and cultural growth. This Friday, the RCLC will be celebrating this accomplishment with an event open to the public.

The event is called “RCLC Moments in Time” and will feature speeches from University President Fr. John Jenkins, manager of the RCLC Jennifer Knapp Beudert and University President Emeritus Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy.

Notre Dame junior and RCLC volunteer Sierra Hajdu said this event is, at its essence, a celebration of the partnership between Notre Dame and the RCLC.

“It’s a place where all family members of the neighborhood can come together,” Hajdu said. “I love its breadth of multidisciplinary organizations that are all so dedicated to creating bonds between people and strengthening the community. It’s a safe-haven, an academic center, a gold mine for imagination and creativity and a place of encouragement.”

Junior Marisa Olsen has been tutoring for the RCLC for three years and said the center is much more than an academic place — it is also a place of empowerment and inclusion.

“I love asking the kids about their day, simply because the answer is always incredibly energetic, a bit over exaggerated and always full of lots of laughter and joy,” Olsen said. “The RCLC does a great job of giving students the academic tools they need to succeed, but also giving them a carefree and open environment to be themselves.”

Olsen said Notre Dame’s relationship with the RCLC creates a stronger community network for the University and allows students to be exposed to the kind of diversity that exists in South Bend, whether it is socioeconomic status, ethnicity or academic abilities. She said Notre Dame students act as mentors and role models for the children at the center.

“The diversity of individuals we are exposed to is wonderful,” Olsen said. “In addition, many of the students at the center look up to Notre Dame students and love hearing about our lives on campus. They all hope to go to Notre Dame one day, and it’s really exciting to hear how much they love the university.”

Hajdu says the center provides a place for her to step back from the chaos of the school week and enjoy herself.

“I think that many of the students volunteer so that they can teach children and give back … but oftentimes, they find that the people they work with in the center wind up teaching them greater life lessons,” Hajdu said. “I find that it’s too easy at ND to get lost in the school work and what is expected of you. The time I spend at the Center and volunteering for Take Ten is some of the best spent time of my weeks because it gives me a chance to pause and have really meaningful interactions with people.”

The celebration Friday will include a video about the center’s history and an award ceremony for faculty and volunteers.

“I am excited to hear the speakers talk about the RCLC’s journey through time, the progression it has made and what it might look like in the future,” Hajdu said. “This institution means so much to so many people, and I am eager to see the community come together to celebrate its achievements and, more importantly, the amazing people who are responsible for making the center such an incredible place.”

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About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

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