Students toured around, sense of self found

By Lauren Lavelle

Junior behavioral neuroscience major Zaire Cone (right) was among the dozens of Greek students who spent a day teaching underprivileged students valuable life skills.

The sisters of Rider’s chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha (LTA) welcomed underprivileged students to campus on Jan. 27 to teach them about the values of life.

The workshop was coordinated by Aspire Youth Development, a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing children from low-income households with proper life skills and goal-reaching techniques.

This year’s program was centered on helping the students find their sense of self.

“We did an activity that talked about values,” said junior human resource management major and LTA president Bianca Molina. “They had to write down their top five values and, little by little, they had to eliminate each value until they had their last value.”

According to Molina, the purpose of the activity was to show the students how eliminating one value will eventually affect their other principles in life.

“A lot of these kids don’t have father figures and some are in single-parent homes, so giving them a sense of self and teaching them about values is important,” she said.

The students were also taken on a tour of Rider by members of LTA, Phi Beta Sigma and Kappa Alpha Psi who served as their mentors for the day.

“Some of the groups went to the BLC, others to the library and the Greek houses,” said Molina. “We want to show these kids that although they’re from low income households, they can go to college and they will go to college.”

Aspire Youth Development was founded by an LTA member at Kean University who wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

“She started the program to remind these kids that they can do whatever they put their minds to,” said Molina.

With the help of LTA members, Aspire Youth Development has been brought to colleges and universities throughout New Jersey with each program focusing on a different set of life skills.

Kean University graduate student Maria Heredia assists with the college mentoring program which helps high school students with college applications, essays and other higher education necessities.

“We want to provide students with the resources that let them know there’s a bigger world out there,” she said. “We believe education is the key to success and these students don’t have the guidance they need. They’ll probably be the first generation of their families going to college.”

Heredia praised the outcome of Rider’s workshop and felt the students connected with their mentors.

“Lambda Theta Alpha brings Aspire Youth Development to universities, but they also bring other student leaders along with them,” she said. “They had other Greek organizations join in and they were great mentors. The mentees were able to relate to them, even if it was something small like music interest.”

Overall, Heredia wanted the students to realize they have a place in higher education.

“The mentors and mentees aren’t that different,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing we want to give them. This can be you one day; you just have to work for it. We expose them to these campuses so they know there are opportunities out there for them.”

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