'Day in the Life' Program Celebrates Seven Years of Mentoring Area Youth

April 22, 2009 — The University of Virginia's "Day in the Life" Program celebrated the close of its seventh year on April 15 at Charlottesville's Buford Middle School.

Charlottesville High School principal Thomas Taylor was the keynote speaker to the more than 350 people who gathered to celebrate.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County school superintendents Pam Moran and Rosa Atkins also spoke at the event, which recognized Day in the Life volunteers and coordinators.

Administered through U.Va.'s Community Relations Office, the Day in the Life Program connects at-risk elementary, middle and high school students with U.Va. students who serve as tutors and mentors. Participating U.Va. students help local youth build or regain an appreciation for education.

During the current school year, more than 400 tutors and 14 mentors have provided more than 4,400 hours of service to the area's young people.

Since the program began in 2002, support has grown on Grounds. The Curry School of Education has been the leader in providing tutors and mentors for the program, and Curry professors, including Bob Covert and Eleanor Wilson, tout the program in their syllabi. The Engineering, Medical and Nursing schools also have promoted the program to their students as an inspiring, direct community service.

While academic involvement in the program has grown over recent years, the need for positive interaction with area youths continues to outpace that growth.

But bridging the gap can be easy, said Covert, who has incorporated Day in the Life programming into his multicultural education class since the program first began.

"I believe we all have a moral and personal responsibility to give back to the community," he said. "It is my hope that other University professors will begin including community service in their syllabi."

"My experience has been rewarding on multiple levels," said Day in the Life tutor Victoria Swicegood, a second-year history major from Springfield, Va. "Watching youth grow in their academic interests and abilities has been thrilling and exciting for me."

Over the program's seven years, more than 3,200 local youths have benefited from 53,000 hours of mentoring and tutoring assistance provided by 1,762 U.Va. students.

To learn more about the Day in the Life tutoring and mentoring program and how to incorporate public service into an established curriculum, contact dayinthelife@virginia.edu.