Drexel LeBow’s Business Learning Community (BLC), an exceptional group of 37 freshmen devoted to both leadership development and social responsibility, has more than a respite after finals to be thankful for this holiday season.
For the past two years, the BLC, in conjunction with Drexel’s Lindy Center for Civic Engagement, has volunteered en masse as after school program tutors at West Philadelphia’s Mantua-Haverford Community Center. The Center, which services a chief constituency of low-income families, offers specialized programs for children — and the youngsters, aged from pre-school to eighth grade, have left a lasting impression on LeBow’s aspiring business leaders.
“If I were to ever be in charge of a business, I would want to give back to the community,” says International Business major Olivia Guerrasio ’17. “Because I have seen what happens when I tutor a student [I think to myself] what if I was part of a company that could get its employees to do it?”
The BLC students admit that the project was hectic at first. Each day 20 kids jump off a bus — fresh from a full day in a classroom and ready to play — and it is the BLC’s job to encourage the children to focus on homework. But the BLC members have eased into their roles as mentors for the children.
“There are a lot of nuances and dynamics at play,” says International Business/Economics major Antonis Mikalis ’17. “We go to tutor them, but it’s also about them having someone older to look up to. We get a sense of being a role model.”
Kim Morales, a pre-junior biology major and Drexel Community Scholar who is stationed at the Center, says that what drives her most is when a student says: “Look Miss Kim, I got an A!” Morales has seen firsthand the impact that the BLC has had on the children.
“Having the BLC students volunteer has been wonderful,” Morales says. “They help the children do homework and then play with them once they are finished. The kids love all the attention from the volunteers and definitely benefit academically from the one-on-one homework help. Also, seeing more and more college students and hearing them talk about their experiences definitely helps some of the older children entertain the idea of college and get excited about it.”
Beginning this fall, the BLC’s work mentoring children at the Center satisfied the service requirement for a one-credit civic engagement course (tentatively titled UNIV 380). However, the BLC plans to continue their work at the Center during both the winter and spring terms.
As a special gift for the children, the BLC has collected close to $100 to purchase sporting equipment, including a much-needed ball pump, which they plan to deliver to the Center before leaving for winter break.
“This is part of our growth as leaders,” says Mikalis. “It has given us much greater opportunities to develop our own leadership qualities.”
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