December 13, 2016 by Greg St. Martin
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
Varsha Ramsumair said she teared up during her final visit with the Boston elementary school students she’d been working with this semester through a service-learning course called “Human Services Professions.”
Ramsumair, SSH’20, a combined major in human services and criminal justice, and three other students mentored female third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders for 90 minutes on Friday afternoons through a partnership with Northeastern’s chapter of Strong Women Strong Girls. The curriculum is designed around the nonprofit organization’s mission of empowering girls, with college students serving as role models and leading a range of activities—from helping the girls share their “peaks and valleys” moments of the day to discussing prominent female leaders and role models.
The particularly touching moment, Ramsumair recalled, came when one of the girls admitted that early in the semester she wasn’t sure whether these college mentors would truly care for her and her peers. But, according to Ramsumair, the girl said, “by the end she felt like she could really be herself.”
Ramsumair noted that she was struck by the ability of the elementary school students and college mentors to bring “good energy” into each other’s days. Through the service-learning experience, she discovered she wants to continue working with youth, noting, “This is such a good cause I believe in.” She added that a significant part of her classwork focused on analyzing and defining social change, which she kept in the front of her mind when working with the girls. “True to the content of my class, I want these girls to be empowered to create positive social change, to believe in their efficacy,” she said….
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