Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Student helps teens aim for college, aids homeless in finding shelter

Zach Scott ’14 leads a discussion group at Jefferson Forest High School.
Zach Scott ’14 passed out calendars to a group of high school students. “Today we’re going to talk about study skills,” he said. He asked them to write down their schedules for each day, noting how much time was spent studying, reading, watching TV, and participating in activities.

Then they pursued a discussion about how to make time for studying. One student pointed out that his grades had been better when he was running cross country and had to spend a lot of time at practice each week.

Scott affirmed that observation. “Your day was so packed that you had to structure it,” he said.

Scott was leading sessions like this in two Lynchburg-area high schools for Project Discovery, a program that aims to help students prepare for college by teaching them about setting goals, study skills, and financial aid. It is run by Lynchburg Community Action Group (Lyn-CAG), where Scott had an internship this fall.

Scott, who began his higher education at Central Virginia Community College, transferred to Randolph because of its strong sociology program and the campus culture. He knew he would be able to meet many different kinds of people while working closely with his professors. “It was really the diversity and the intimate environment of the college that brought me here,” he said.

His fall 2012 internship with Lyn-CAG had two components. In addition to teaching college preparation lessons to high school students, Scott helped find permanent housing for homeless people. His work helped increase his awareness of problems that he hopes to help solve.

“As a youth advocate, I realized that not every youth has a mentor to guide them through daily life.  That is a privilege, not an entitlement.  As a housing advocate, I realized that a home is a luxury item; not everyone has one,” Scott said.

Scott plans to pursue a master’s degree and become a social worker after he graduates from Randolph. Looking back on his internship, he said it provided valuable experience that will help in his career. “I was able to take sociological theory and apply it to sociological practice while working with people from various social and cultural backgrounds,” he said.