Isabella Dominique, DC Reads

Introduction

My name is Isabella Dominique and I am a freshman at American University. I am currently double majoring in CLEG (communications, law, economics, government) and political science. I am connecting my CSLP credit to the writing seminar I’m enrolled in. My seminar focuses on social justice and law. I felt this was the most fitting of choices because my class and I spend most of our time exploring the avenues of social justice and equity in America. My knowledge I’ve gained from volunteering with DC Reads applies well to the content I am learning in my writing seminar because I am tutoring the students in math and ELA, but through the lens of a social justice curriculum.

My Volunteer Site

I volunteer at the Higher Achievement site for DC Reads. Higher Achievement is program that is offered from 6-8pm on select weekday nights. Scholars from grades five through eight are welcome to attend. Each night, we are given a curriculum that supplements what the scholars have already learned during their normal school hours. However, we teach them different ways to better retain that information and apply it to their own lives. As a volunteer, I form bonds with my scholars and I ensure that they are actually learning all the curriculum asks of them. Since the groups of scholars are generally small, it’s easier to make sure every student is confident with what they are learning.

My Expectations

I have been most surprised by the sheer eagerness of the scholars that attend Higher Achievement. Before I had ever gone to site, I was expecting the scholars to be less excited about spending more time after their normal school days to only do more school. However, these students do an excellent job at being kind, courteous, and passionate about becoming more knowledgeable. It makes the experience for both parties (mentor and mentee) much more enjoyable and it creates a strong bond between both the mentors and their scholars.

Course Connection

My writing professor has worked to teach my class about the becomings of civil rights in America. She has split the class into four sections: the Civil Rights Movement/black history, women’s suffrage, sexual assault, and free speech. I appreciate being able to relearn and dive deeper into the concepts behind the Civil Rights Movement because they are just learning it for the first time. I now have a greater understanding of the content that my scholars are learning themselves. About 98% of my scholars are people of color, most of them being black or Hispanic. The content I am learning in my own college course allows me to better understand how they might be underprivileged and how I can use my opportunities as a college student to better their own chances of success. At Higher Achievement, the scholars are learning through a social justice curriculum. They understand the importance of equity and equality, but I think it’s even more important to reinforce the idea that there is still work to be done. They were born with the platforms to create more change and I have found that encouraging them and telling them that they are able to make change has allowed them to better their self-confidence.

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