“I wish it was every day.” This was the resonating response from a local schoolchild about what could improve College Mentors for Kids. Kashie Suiter recalls the answer most fondly.

Suiter and other Ball State students participate in Ball State’s chapter of College Mentors for Kids, to mentor local first- through fourth-graders from four schools in Delaware County. Each week, the children visit Ball State to spend time with a college buddy. In a group of 10 buddy pairs, the children and mentors participate in hands-on campus-wide activities related to higher education, community service, culture and diversity, and economics.

When the children arrive, they have one-on-one time with their college buddy. Then, while the mentors announce the day’s topic, the children have a snack, and the mentors lead the children in a small discussion, followed by a weekly speaker. The rest of the time flies with activities, games, and journal writing. Activities often involve some type of community service such as recycling or selling lemonade for Riley Hospital for Children. Each year, the entire group works together on Walk for Kids, a large charity event held in Worthen Arena.

The effect on the children is remarkable, helping them build relationships and raising their interest in education. It is also attributed to improving the children’s grades and behavior. The program’s benefits work both ways. Suiter, an elementary education major, participates because it allows her the opportunity to simultaneously work with children and do community service. Fellow mentor Josh Bowling feels inspired and enjoys hearing the students say they want to go to college someday so they can be like their big buddy. “It’s good for the children to see that someone cares for them and wants them to succeed,” Bowling says.
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"It's good for the children to see that someone cares for them and wants them to succeed."

—Josh Bowling