Cabrini partners with local community

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This is an article I wrote for issue 16 of the Loquitur. it is an article about a class at Cabrini that mentors Hispanic high school students in the Norristown Area High School.

Transcript of Cabrini partners with local community

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  • Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011 The Loquitur 3 News

    Spanish ECG class offers high school students new program after school in Norristown

    PROGRAM, page 1

    background. This fact also holds true on the high school level, which is where the Spanish ECG class is trying to make a differ-ence.

    We would like somehow to contribute to that and help in ways that we think we can to im-prove the futures of many Latino students by community organiz-ing, advocating for them, work-ing closely with them, believing in them and by ultimately helping them to secure funding sources for grants and scholarships, Dr. Cynthia Halpern, chair of the ro-mance languages and literatures department and the ECG 200 pro-fessor, said.

    The Cabrini students ultimate goal with the high school students is to see them graduate and re-ceive scholarship money for col-lege.

    In the fall of 2009, the stu-dents began with an ECG 100 class taught by Dr. Nicholas Uliano, associate professor of the romance languages, who intro-duced the students to many of the challenges faced by Latino im-migrants. After ECG 100, the stu-dents continue with the program for four years, concluding with a senior-level course.

    Cabrini students who are par-ticipating in this program travel to the Norristown Area High School certain days during the week af-

    ter school to meet with Spanish-speaking high school students.

    Our ECG 200 class talks about Mexican immigration and their struggle when they come over to the United States, Jess Merone, sophomore psychology and social work major and stu-dent mentor, said. Merone, along with her parents and siblings, are immigrants from Italy.

    According to Merone, the main issues facing immigrants are language barriers, feeling ac-cepted in school and discrimina-tion. These factors most likely contribute to the low graduation rates.

    Were helping them with schoolwork and providing oppor-tunities for them to continue on with their schoolwork, Merone said.

    Dr. Raquel Green, assistant professor of romance languages and the ECG 300 professor, ex-plained that some Hispanic stu-dents start falling behind academ-ically during the third or fourth grade because of the language barrier. As the students move to the higher grades that gap widens.

    Thats when they begin to feel I am never going to catch up and that is when behavioral issues may emerge, Green said. They feel more isolated.

    I at least want to see one stu-dent graduate, Lisa Gomez, ju-nior exercise science major and ECG class student leader, said.

    Gomez was chosen to serve as the intern of the mentorship pro-gram because of her Puerto Rican family background. Gomez stated that her family is her biggest in-

    spiration. Where I live theres not a lot

    of graduates. There are a lot of drop-outs and I know people per-sonally that dropped out, Gomez said.

    This program is new for the Norristown Area High School in that it is the first one geared to-ward working specifically with Spanish-speaking students.

    As a district we are charged with ensuring that students are successful and when there are students who are speakers of other languages, I think we are responsible for doing whatever it takes to ensure that students feel supported and know they are sup-ported, Dr. Janet Samuels, su-perintendent of Norristown Area School District, said.

    Halpern explained that the

    program also benefits each Cabri-ni student enrolled in the ECG 200 class at an intermediate level in their Spanish language studies and they get to practice their lan-guage skills with the high school students.

    Halpern explained how she felt the parents of the high school children were nothing but grate-ful for the time, care and dedica-tion of the Cabrini students.

    There are no words. There are just no words to tell you how emotional I felt, Halpern said. To me, it was a precious mo-ment in time. That will personally give me the energy to keep going because this is the beginning of something thats going to be ex-traordinary.

    [email protected]

    Relay For Life was started in 1985 by a man named Dr. Gordy Klatt. Klatt decided to walk around a track for 24-hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Just by this one mans action, over 3.5 mil-lion people participate in this event all over the country.

    This event is important to Cabrini be-cause I think it really unites the campus. Everybody knows someone who survived cancer or passed away from cancer. Fight-ing to find a cure for cancer is something everyone can relate to, Melissa Phillips, last years Relay For Life participant and organizer, said.

    Last year was Cabrini Colleges first time joining in Relay For Life. With over 300 participants raising $27,000 and pass-ing their goal of $23,000, the college want-ed to advocate more by having another Re-lay For Life event.

    The first year event won an award from ACS rookie of the year for how successful it was. The goal for this year is $30,000, Allie Potter, Relay For Life co-chair and senior special education major, said.

    Several communities and colleges all over the United States participate in this event to raise money for the ACS. The goal i