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Carls Receive Northfield Healthy Community Initiatives’ “Making a Difference” Award

June 9, 2011

Five Carleton students have been awarded a local organization's "Making a Difference" award for their volunteer efforts in the Northfield community. While many Carleton students are involved in local volunteer projects throughout the school year, these students were singled out by the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) for their work with local high-school students.

The HCI's monthly award celebrates groups and individuals in the community who have a positive influence on Northfield youth. The June award went to Annie Boucher ’11 (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Sam Ellerbeck '11 (Kansas City, Mo.), Emily Schickli ’11 (Palo Alto, Calif.), Nick Welna ’12 (Evanston, Ill.), Becca Kilman ’11 (Scarborough, N.Y.) and Carrie Paulette ’11 (Prairie Village, Kan.).

Kilman and Paulette, with oversight from Science and Higher Education Access VISTA coordinator Lynsey Bernfeld ’10 of Carleton’s Academic Civic Engagement (ACE) office and Northfield High School Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes (TORCH) / Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) coordinator Jason Hallen 08, served as teacher assistants in an after-school collaborative program between Carleton, Riverland Community College and the TORCH program. Students in the program nominated the Carleton teaching assistants for the HCI award.

The collaboration allows high-school students to receive college credit through Riverland’s online classes. Students are involved in the program to gain exposure to college-level courses as they prepare to move on to post-secondary opportunities. “The students receive a college-like experience and find out what it’s like to be in a setting with college-level expectations,” Bernfeld said.

Carleton’s involvement, in the form of the Carleton student teaching assistants and AmeriCorps VISTA, aids the students in realizing what it takes to be successful academically at the collegiate level in terms of study habits, time management and academic performance. Each session, which meets once a week, meets for approximately an hour. Each section has between 2-10 students, while students typically take at least two classes each semester. The Carleton teaching assistants build on the online classes taught by the Riverland faculty members.

While much of the teaching assistants’ time is spent focusing on course work, the sessions also allow the Carleton students to share their insights into what it takes to be successful academically. “We worked with the students on ways to manage their time, like using a planner, and being responsible for their own work,” Kilman said. “I felt that was one of the most important things the program taught them and empowered them to do that.” Paulette said she and the students also discussed different career paths and how to get there.

Kilman and Paulette, like many volunteers, took as much or more out of giving their time than the high-school students received. Both Carls’ eyes were opened to the possibility of pursuing education as a career option.

“I learned how hard it is to be an effective teacher,” Paulette said. “There are so many objectives to juggle. I gained a lot of skills and I think I want to work in education.” Kilman concurred that being a teacher is a possibility down the line for her as well.

“Being able to interact with the Northfield community in this setting was very positive and it was a great experience for teaching in a very hands-on sort of way,” Paulette said.