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How co-op helped me discover my passion

I am currently working as an intern for Scholar Athletes as my first co-op experience at Northeastern. My job involves serving the many communities around Boston through my work as a tutor/mentor for urban youth in various Boston Public High Schools, in addition to completing various administrative responsibilities in the Scholar Athlete front office. My experience working with this population through my co-op experience has enabled me to gain and practice a variety of skills that will prepare me for my future career: patience, cultural sensitivity, effective communication, creative thinking, willingness to understand others, and leading by example through a positive attitude and being a positive role model. Part of my job at Scholar Athletes is to empower my students to develop their own strengths, beliefs, and personal qualities that make them unique. Some students I have met have never had someone in their life that said they believed in them and/or encouraged them to achieve their goals. Through my experience working at Scholar Athletes, I have learned that most students simply need a positive role model in their life. Many of the students I work with on a daily basis use me as someone to talk to about issues they are struggling with in their lives. I have had students tell me that I have helped them tremendously by simply listening and supporting them the best way I can. Working for this organization has given me the skills necessary to be the best role model and support system I can be to make the most positive, lasting impact on the lives of my students.

“…my co-op experience has enabled me to gain and practice a variety of skills that will prepare me for my future career: patience, cultural sensitivity, effective communication, creative thinking, willingness to understand others, and leading by example…

My dream career is to make a difference in the world doing something I love to do. I am lucky enough that through this co-op experience I have found my life’s passion serving urban youth and equipping them with the skills that they need to achieve success. This experience has been truly rewarding for a multitude of reasons, besides the fact that I have found what I would like to do for the rest of my life. As a mentor, I have been able to explicitly show my students that they have someone in their life that cares about them and their success and as a result will develop more sense of confidence, self-worth, and self-discipline, which is important for youth who face obstacles in and out of school. As a tutor, I offer my students more than just help with coursework, but I also provide them with the other skills necessary to be self-sufficient in achieving academic success: organization, time management, self-advocacy, etc. Serving urban youth in any way is not solely about teaching them life skills…it is not a one-way relationship. Working at Scholar Athletes thus far, my students have taught me so much. They not only teach me new life skills (i.e. resourceful thinking when explaining homework solutions), but they also teach me more about myself (i.e. perseverance and resilience).

I truly believe that if someone loves what they are doing for work every day, then they do not really ‘work’ a day in their life. Working with all of my students has truly made me a happier person. Seeing the look on their faces when they finally understand a homework problem, when they receive the grade they wanted on a quiz or test, or when they are finally able to pass the class they needed to graduate…that is what my job is all about. I get pure joy out of the happiness that I am able to bring to the students I mentor/tutor just by solely being there and giving them a positive role model to look up to. Seeing their faces light up when they realize that they are capable of so much more than they had previously thought is truly the most rewarding feeling in the world and as a result, is the reason that I love my job. I never thought I would be sad to leave my job at the end of the day, but since starting this co-op I have realized that the worst part of my day is leaving my students to go home. I truly love this job and I am so happy I picked working for Scholar Athletes as my first co-op.

This blog post was written by Taylor Tharp, a human services major minoring in American Sign Language and psychology. You can contact her at tharp.t@husky.neu.edu

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