Mentor program encourages enthusiasm about education

Kaitlyn Skovran

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A group of UK students are taking their college experiences and showing children in Lexington schools about the importance of education, while also encouraging an excitement to learn.

The UK College Mentors for Kids program reaches out to about 120 kids in Lexington. The program helps teach them about culture and diversity, higher education and community service, all while giving them hope that they one day will be able to go to college.

“I think it’s an important resource for these kids because there (are) a lot of opportunities on this campus,” said Maddie Conrad, president of the UK chapter. “A lot of the kids we serve, their parents did not go to college, so it isn’t something they talk about at home. Even by them being here you can hear them talk about school in a different way.”

Conrad, a psychology junior, heard about the program when she was a freshman at UK. She said she was immediately interested in the opportunity to work with kids. She babysat in high school and was also a mentor to students.

Conrad said that her “little buddy” she met when she began her first year is the reason she continued to participate in the program, and later, applied to become the president of the chapter.

“It’s changed me a lot,” Conrad said. “I’m just very passionate about the program and I think that’s because I had such a good experience with my little buddy. I was able to see her change and grow from the experience.”

The program not only benefits the children, Conrad said, but the students who are mentoring as well.

“You learn just as much from them as they learn from you, so it’s really nice because you grow together,” said Kristina Sadler, an English senior.

Sadler is the general manager of the UK chapter and acts as an overseer to the kids, as well as helps coordinate the fundraising that is essential to their program.

The program gives the students snacks, such as sandwiches and water, that are paid for by the fundraising efforts. For some children, this snack is the only other meal they will have outside of school.

One of the greatest things that Sadler said was seeing them start to believe in themselves and knowing they have a future.