My Cinderella Night: Reflections on College Nights and the Future of DCTMI

Tutor works with student at Northstar Tutoring (photo curtesy of Northstar Tutoring)

DCTMI and Student Education and Leadership Fund (SELF) hosted two College Nights, at Washington Leadership Academy on May 4th and Dunbar High School on May 5th. College Nights were formed in an effort to bring volunteers and students together. We had two main goals. First, our recruited volunteers had been having difficulties following through the whole volunteering process, whether it was background checks, training sessions, or answering our emails. College Nights would serve as short and introductory events that would enable individuals to volunteer without stressing about the process. Our second goal was to help young high school students learn about post-secondary options while offering them an additional support system.

Of course, this event was a Mount Everest to plan and climb. At times, I was definitely perceived as a stalker with my constant emails, calls, and visits to school partners and volunteers. Tom Pollak, DCTMI’s director, would be cheering me on to continue contacting people; so, in reality, I was just a messenger rather than an actual stalker. After the initial planning sections, more worries arose. Would there be enough pizza? Would there be enough volunteers? Students? We ran into various problems, but the adaptability and calm demonstrated by everyone was extraordinary and showed the goodwill and enthusiasm that people brought to College Nights.

I was joyfully overwhelmed by the willingness of both volunteers and students to come and engage with each other despite long, tiresome days. It was beyond exciting to watch students ask for contact information and additional resources. Volunteers, as well, came up afterwards, looking for more ways to get involved.

So, what happens now? Well, personally, I will be leaving DC and returning to my homeland of Pennsylvania, but DCTMI and SELF will continue to hold these nights to form relationships and interactions. In addition to College Nights, we look forward to connecting our community to other tutoring and mentoring opportunities throughout the city. Without all of us, it is hard to imagine a bright future for all our students and our future; as the old proverb says, it takes a village. Let’s learn and work together to make a difference. To do so, DCTMI is here to help volunteers remain involved in the long-term.

Thank you to our students and volunteers. Thank you to Executive Director Stacy Kane and the administration and faculty at Washington Leadership Academy. Thank you to Dunbar High School, especially Assistant Principal Marc Gomes and Counselor LaShawn Ricks. Last but not least, thank you to Sebastian Amar and Guy Johnson, our partners at SELF.

Want to get involved? Know organizations that would like to work with us? Have a community space for future College Nights? Contact us at info@dctutormentor.org or call/text us at 202-688-1261.

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