This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Sia-Linda Lebbie, COL ’21

Thanks to the funding I received from Career Services, I am blessed to say that I have been able to give back to a community that raised me and made me the person that I am today. I come from Salem, Massachusetts, a small city that is just outside of Boston. Salem has a growing immigrant community, predominately hailing from the Dominican Republic. Many of the adolescents in this community have lower reading comprehension and test scores. This is primarily due to their families not having the funds to provide extracurricular activities and enriching summer programs.

The non-profit I interned for this summer, LEAP for Education, provides just what this community needs: free after-school and summer programming for low-income and/or first-generation students. LEAP, as we refer to it, provides programming in Salem, Peabody and Gloucester, all local cities, to nearly seven hundred students. Their programs range from an after-school Teen Center to a Zero Robotics coding summer coding competition.

This year Salem High School and Salem State University are partnering with LEAP to run an Early College program. This program will allow fifty Salem High students to take college classes their Junior and Senior years of high school, graduate with four college credits, and if all their courses are passed, the students will receive early admission to Salem State. This program is free-of-charge for all of the students involved, even their textbooks are provided.

Salem State provides the classes, Salem High the students, and LEAP provided the summer college readiness seminar, which I primarily worked on. I worked with five empowering women at LEAP to create learning materials for our program. I made phone calls to students and parents, registered them for one of the two tracks available, ensured that they had turned in their Dual Enrollment forms, and reminded them to show up once the dates drew near.

I also developed lesson plans, such as my Outlining and Study Skills lessons, two of which I modeled after the skills that I had gained at Penn. Throughout the seminar, I was a LEAP instructor that helped teach one of the classes. I was fortunate enough to work with two phenomenal women who have a passion for educating populations that mainstream society deems “unworthy.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this summer because I was able to learn a lot. I learned how to create curriculum that is catered to first-generation students. I learned that behind every successful non-profit, is a team of people who work relentlessly to create long-lasting impact. I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity Career Services was able to give me. Due to their funding, I was able to not worry about finances and bring my full attention to LEAP’s endeavors. I am also grateful for the LEAP staff for welcoming me with open arms. They gave me a responsibility that was able to mold me into someone who works efficiently with teams to execute a successful venture, a skill set I had not developed before. I will take these skills with me wherever I go.


Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.