mentors help teens in school
little encouragement goes a long way. In some cases, it can lead
to monumental personal achievement like high school graduation for
students who had been at risk of not graduating.
In addition to learning about law, criminological theory, and investigations,
CSUS criminal justice students mentor Sacramento High School students
through a program called "Sac-Mentoring."
"It's a matter of caring about the future," says Aarena
Williams, a junior at Sacramento High who has a mentor at CSUS.
"There is a good amount of students leaving high school who
could make it if they were in a mentoring program."
"I love this program," says Nick Damico, CSUS student
coordinator for the Sac-Mentoring at the high school. "I started
out as a mentor and liked it so much I applied for work in the program."
CSUS students set positive examples, and in many cases, see their
mentees enter college. "Last year, five out of 10 disabled
students in the mentoring program went on to Sac City College,"
said Jason Bebb, a teacher for the deaf at Sacramento High.
"It's an application of real-world experience to academic learning
at Sac State," says Ricky Gutierrez, a professor of criminal
justice who oversees the program. "A great deal of criminal
justice issues stem from lack of education, so we are proactive
in creating positive relationships between CSUS students and high
school students who are at risk of falling through the cracks of
the education system."
Sacramento High School teachers and counselors refer students for
the program. It is voluntary, but so popular that the waiting list
has grown to 20. "We take the most needy when we have too many,"
Personal achievement is the big win for all involved in Sac-Mentoring.
"I learned how to deal with different cultural backgrounds
and see them from a non-judgmental point of view," says Forrest
Silberstein, a graduate student currently writing his thesis on
the program. "I didn't realize how I'd lost touch with high
school students and their value systems until I had a mentee."
Sac-Mentoring is now in its eighth year. About 100 CSUS students
are signed up for the program, and typically 80 to 90 complete it
each semester. Mentors spend a minimum of three hours a week with
their mentee, plus attend a 50-minute class every other week, and
four three-hour activities during the semester.
"The way the program is set up is very encouraging," Sacramento
High School student Williams says. "I can call my mentor even
if we don't meet that day and get help with my homework."
Sac-Mentoring is funded through a grant from Associated Students,
but Gutierrez is exploring additional funding through grants at
CSUS, and any other opportunities available in order to expand the
"If we can touch the lives of at least 10 percent of the high
school students in need of this program, we're doing good,"