Eleven local elementary school students will each receive the gift of a new laptop computer from Med Mentors, a volunteer effort in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, during a special ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, in the UC Medical Sciences Building’s Lucas Board Room.
Med Mentors works with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC) to link medical students with Cincinnati Public School children for mentorship. The group expects similar success that Beatrice Nichols, a second-year UC medical student, had last year when she helped her mentee, a fifth-grader at South Avondale School, learn how to use Microsoft’s PowerPoint program on her new laptop. It came in handy as the youngster used the computer to pull together a research project.
"It really did help motivate her,” says Nichols of her mentee. "She would take the laptop to the library and use it to work on things required for class. It’s not just because of the laptop, but academically she has shown a lot more responsibility for what she is doing and she is doing better in school overall. She has access to a laptop and when the need arises she does not have to be at school to complete her assignments.”
The efforts of medical students like Nichols to mentor area schoolchildren have gotten a boost with the laptops funded largely by a $15,000 gift from a group of physicians and medical staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The generous funding is offered over a three-year period with this the second installment. The gift will eventually provide 30 laptop computers for local schoolchildren to work with mentors.
"CYC is grateful for this tremendous gift from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital,” says Elise Hyder, donor and volunteer relations manager for Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. "These laptops will provide terrific learning experiences for our students, many of whom would not otherwise have access to this 21st century must-have tool. We can’t thank our amazing partners at UC Med Mentors enough for making this opportunity possible for our students.”
Med Mentors was founded in 2001 by Wan Lim PhD, associate professor-educator of medical education emeritus, and is among the College of Medicine’s most popular student outreach activities.
"Many of our young mentees come from financially challenged households so it’s really terrific that we are able to provide them with a laptop computer,” says Keith Stringer, MD, faculty advisor for Med Mentors, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital pathologist and assistant professor in the UC College of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
"It’s a delight to have the ceremony where these children are presented with a computer and their parents are present and cheering them on. It’s really a great success of our mentorship program to be able to provide this for these kids. You can see that they are so happy to be receiving these tools which can be helpful for all sorts of purposes from doing homework to playing games, hopefully of an educationally nature, to simply nurturing their interest in science, math and the humanities.”
"The ability to give out these computers would not be possible without the generosity of our donors and we really do have to thank them enormously because without their support this would not be possible,” says Stringer.
Med Mentors connects 200 medical students to about 200 school-age mentees. The med-student run program works closely with CYC to train mentors, says Charles Cavallo, MD, president of the Med Mentors advisory board, instructor in the UC Department of Pediatrics and an alumnus of the College of Medicine.
Mentees come from various schools including several near the College of Medicine, such as North Avondale Montessori School, South Avondale School and Rockdale Academy. The mentoring effort at UC targets students in grades three through six though some students stay with Med Mentors for longer periods, says Cavallo.
"There is very clear data that the kids who are mentored have better behavior, better school attendance, better grades, better graduation rates and better college acceptance rates,” says Cavallo. "It’s a wonderful vehicle to make a difference in a child’s life.”
Med Mentors has received support from the Charles H. Dater Foundation, the Rue Foundation and the Medical Student Association.