UK students volunteer as role models for children


Shannen Patterson, a sophomore marketing major, takes a tour of the Joe Craft center with Macubieona Price and Kaya Miller as part of the College Mentors for Kids program in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. Photo by Emily Wuetcher

By Anne Halliwell

[email protected]

Grade-school students and their college mentors visited the Joe Craft Center on Tuesday to learn about the importance of a college education in athletics.

The students are a part of College Mentors for Kids, an organization that is entering its second year of bringing underprivileged grade-school students to UK once a week for tutoring, said Ann Dickson, a biology senior and vice president of the group.

“(We’ve) been able to show these kids some really neat things that they wouldn’t have learned,” said Emily Pena, a kinesiology senior who founded UK’s chapter.

UK is home to the 22nd chapter of the nationwide organization, Dickson said.

College Mentors for Kids began in 1995 and has since spread across the nation, according to the organization’s website.

“I definitely saw the need and I knew how well … the college-aged student would respond,” Pena said. “I’ve seen how successful the program was and knew without a doubt that it would do well at UK.”

Pena said university staff has been helpful in allowing them to plan interesting visits.

Activities directors in the organization plan the events and reach out to UK for help in securing locations, she said.

“They typically pick a focus on campus,” Pena said. “It could be anything related to chemistry, art, athletics … (and they) bring that to life and make it an educational and hands-on experience.”

The program currently works with children from Harrison Elementary School and Breckinridge Elementary School in Lexington. Harrison children visit on Tuesdays, and Breckinridge students come on Wednesdays.

The children come to UK’s campus to take part in activities that focus on higher education, diversity and service, Dickson said.

The students are selected by their school counselors for the program and then matched with UK student mentors, she said. Freshmen are generally partnered with younger children, and if both members return the next year, the program will try to pair them up again.

“Potentially, they could be matched all the way through … grade school and college,” Dickson said.

Pena said the program has almost quadrupled its size from the first year’s 24 participants to this year’s 40 students from each school. They hope to have 100 students participate next year, she said.

Due to the growth of the program, the UK chapter will be looking for more college mentors next semester.

Students can go to for more information or follow the organization on social media.

Pena is unsure whether the program will draw the extra students from their established partners or bring in another elementary school.

“The need is there,” Pena said. “It’s just how we go about it.”