Ten students from Cincinnati Public Schools visited the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in November and were happy recipients of laptop computers to help with their schoolwork. The computers were gifts from Med Mentors, a program involving about 150 medical students who volunteer throughout the year to mentor more than 100 local school-age children.
Med Mentors, which is supported by a donation from the Clare Family Foundation, provides laptops each year to selected children who are nominated by their mentors. This year, 10 children — based on program attendance and grades among other factors — were selected after a review by the Med Mentors leadership, said Charles Cavallo, assistant professor in the UC department of pediatrics and president of the Med Mentors Advisory Board.
“We give out 10-20 laptops each year and the recipients always show an improvement in grades, behavior and responsibility,” said Cavallo. “It really helps them do more projects and assignments and helps prevent summer learning loss.”
The school children mostly come from William H. Taft Elementary School and Rockdale Academy, but some also attend Fairview-Clifton German Language School, South Avondale School and North Avondale Montessori School.
The medical students are trained by the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, which links them with the grade school students. The mentoring effort targets students in grades three through six, though some students stay with their medical student mentors for longer periods. Med Mentors focus on preparing students for academic success, but mentors also expose students to cultural and extracurricular activities. The program, which began at the college in 2001, is currently led by Kara Tauer and Roshni Venkatesh, both members of the college’s class of 2025.
One student receiving a laptop this year was Arianna Stevenson, a sixth-grade student from Taft Elementary School. Arianna is mentored by Claire Scott and Lindsay Young, also from the class of 2025. The medical students each spend about a half hour a week with Arianna and then together they spend another two or three hours with her once a month for an outing or group event, most recently taking her for a visit to the Cincinnati Zoo.
“Arianna is such a sweet girl, full of so many interests, making mentoring her such a fun opportunity,” Scott says. “We hope to work with her on reading, as this is something that she has expressed interest in improving, so I see fun trips to different libraries and bookstores in our future. Spending time with her outside of school-based activities gives us a unique opportunity to serve as more general role models.”
Both Scott and Young enjoy working with Arianna and say mentoring has helped them get to know the city better. Planning things to do with Arianna helps Young discover new events and places in Cincinnati that she likely would never see, she says.
“Overall, it’s provided a fun environment for us to get to know Arianna, and we’re looking forward to continuing to get to know her and developing both short-term and long-term goals for her academic and personal life,” Young adds.
“Since I’m not from the Cincinnati area, I really wanted to find a way to integrate myself into the community of Cincinnati through service. Working with children has always been a passion of mine, so Med Mentors seemed like the perfect opportunity to both serve the community and work with kids,” Scott said. “Spending time with Arianna reminds me to take a step back and remember why I am in medical school: to obtain the knowledge necessary to keep kids like her happy and healthy as a pediatrician.”