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Mentorship club invites elementary school students to campus

| Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sophomore Kaley Murday —  an older sister, babysitter and godmother — said when she first arrived to Notre Dame, she missed spending time with kids.

Then she discovered College Mentors for Kids, a program that aims to show children in the South Bend community the everyday of college life and encourage them to pursue a college degree. Each Tuesday and Thursday, the organization brings first-through-sixth grade kids from St. Adalbert Catholic School to campus. On Wednesdays, the group busses in first-through-fourth graders from Holy Cross Elementary School.

“Day-to-day for a mentor, you’re just hanging out with this kid and trying to get to know them,” Murday said. “Every week, we have an activity. We’ve done yoga, ultimate frisbee and we even made gingerbread houses for Christmas. We try to choose engaging activities that paint college in a bright light.”

However, College Mentors for Kids is not just about showcasing the college experience. Murday said mentors hope to form connections with their kids and often have the same “buddy” from semester to semester.

“I made it a point when making my schedule every semester to keep Thursday afternoons free because that’s when my buddy comes,” she said. “This is my third semester with her. She’s quieter, so she really didn’t open up to me until last semester, but now she tells me about the boys she likes and cute stuff like that.”

Senior Danielle Koterbay, vice president of Tuesday programming for the club, has been a member since her sophomore year, when a friend recommended it, she said. Koterbay said one of the special things about the club is it aims to reflect the Notre Dame’s mission.

“Notre Dame students love to live out the mission of Notre Dame, which is being a force for good. So I think that this is a wonderful opportunity to do that,” Koterbay said. “It can change these little kids’ lives in ways that they may not see once the program ends, but it’s nice to know that students can have an impact on them, no matter how small.”

Each student meets with his or her buddy once a week for about two hours. Junior Joseph Hirshorn, president of the club, said this means anyone can get involved.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to see how small actions can really make a big difference,” Hirshorn said. “You know, each individual mentor by themselves can have a huge impact on this one child and then on the community as a whole, especially in building this community of support for these two schools, which have been positively impacted from that.”

The program closes each year with a banquet at St. Adalbert for mentors, children and their parents.

“We get to meet [the parents], and we get to hear how the buddy went home each week and said how much college mentors had an impact on them,” Koterbay said. “It really brings it all full circle, and it’s an amazing close to the year.”

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