LAUREN OOLEY | STAFF REPORTER
At the beginning of the year, 80 underprivileged Indianapolis Public Schools elementary-aged kids were asked by their mentors:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
They answer “an Arby’s worker” or “a basketball player.”
These mentors are part of College Mentors for Kids, a program that exposes potential first-generation college students to life at Butler University. The mentors encourage the kids they are paired with, or their “little buddies,” to work toward the goal of gaining admission to college.
The little buddies get to participate in exciting activities on campus with their mentors, such as touring the Butler University Police Department, watching a chemistry magic show and touring Hinkle Fieldhouse while talking to a student athlete.
Each activity is geared toward keeping the kids entertained and showing them the benefits of a college education.
Anna Sutter, a senior at Butler, is now the president of College Mentors for Kids. She reminisced about joining the program as a mentor her sophomore year:
“I had no clue I would even like the program, but within the first two weeks, I knew it was something I would participate in the rest of my time at Butler,” she said.
The program doesn’t just have a lasting effect on the little buddies, but the mentors as well. A fourth-grade boy taught Sutter the most important lesson she learned in College Mentors for Kids.
This little boy, usually well-behaved, was clearly having a bad day, Sutter remembered. He was swearing on the bus and seemed very angry. Sutter calmed the boy down and took him aside. She asked what was wrong, and the boy broke down and cried.
“Bad kids aren’t bad because they’re underprivileged,” Sutter said. “This little boy just needed someone to talk to. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you just need to be there to listen.”
Corinne Campbell, a communication sciences and disorders major at Butler, is just one of the many students hoping to become a part of College Mentors for Kids this year.
“I’m most looking forward to building a relationship, not just with my fellow peers, but with the kids,” Campbell said.
Campbell participated in Peer Mentors, a similar program, through her high school career. She remembers what it was like working with kids through the program: “I really enjoyed it. It was a great feeling.”
Campbell said she would recommend to everyone to get involved with a program like this.
After seeing their mentor once a week for either a semester or a year, the little buddies are asked again what they want to be when they grow up. Their answers had changed from “Arby’s worker” to “I want to work in cuisine,” and from “a basketball player” to “I want to be a college athlete.”
College Mentors for Kids is a great way to get involved on campus and truly change your life and the life of a kid in need.
Potential mentors are interviewed by members of College Mentors for Kids. Once students have been accepted as a mentor, they meet on either Wednesdays or Thursdays from 3:45 to 4:45 every week.
Students interested in joining the program can apply online.