Women2Women - Winter 2018 - 16


Cultivating learners and leaders for life
By Toni Eckert, Associate Director of the O'Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership
& Public Service and Director of Leadership Berks, Alvernia University


he mission of Alvernia University is to cultivate
engaged citizens and ethical leaders with moral courage. As
the hub for curricular and co-curricular leadership programs,
the University's O'Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public
Service has defined that the path to leadership is intentionally paved
by serving as a catalyst to address community issues and public
dialogue on leadership, public policy, and community engagement
and service to others.

With 37% of the City of Reading's population living below the
poverty line, the largest concentration of English Language Learners
in the state of Pennsylvania, and approximately only 60% of Reading
High School students receiving high school diplomas, Alvernia
University made a commitment to increase the number of graduates
attending and succeeding in college. Through the generosity of
university resources and individual donors, Alvernia launched the
Reading Collegiate Scholars Program, RCSP, that awards up to 10
full tuition student scholarships to qualified students who apply and
are accepted to Alvernia.

The RCSP includes two parts:
First - the High School College Exploration portion housed in
the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement that
targets students in grades 9 through 12 by providing students with
the tools they need to graduate from high school and attend a college
of their choice. The program helps high school students understand
college funding and scholarships, application processes, and degree
program exploration.

Second - the College Student Readiness program, housed in the
O'Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public Service. Uniquely
designed for Reading High School graduates who have been accepted
to Alvernia, this portion of the program begins with a Summer Bridge
intensive cohort experience that prepares accepted Alvernia students
to begin the transition from high school to a university setting.
During Summer Bridge, students learn more about themselves, their
style of learning, and their way of addressing problems. Students
also participate in workshops on leadership, self-advocacy, conflict
resolution, and study skills, diversity & inclusion, work/student-life
balance, and financial literacy.
At the close of Summer Bridge, scholars meets the community mentors that have been assigned to partner with them one-on-one during
their tenure at Alvernia. The community mentors assist students in
the transition to college, support them throughout their college career,
and ultimately help students with their job search. In addition, each
cohort is assigned a faculty mentor who also lends support to help
students learn strategies for how to communicate with faculty, study
skills, and other student support services available on campus. RCSP
students are required to participate in service projects and annually,
working with their faculty mentor, to develop an educational program
or event for their cohort and another for the campus.
Given the vast majority of RCSP students come from families
who are not necessarily fluent in English, in 2017, the RCSP
undertook an intentional effort to specifically recruit Spanishspeaking community mentors by leveraging its partnership with
the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance's Women2Women and De
Mujer a Mujer programs that resulted in 5 of the 10 community
mentors coming from this special partnership.
"De Mujer a Mujer program provides a platform for Latina women
to share their successes in creating a path to better themselves, their
families, and their communities. Alvernia's Reading Collegiate
Scholars Mentor Program allows me the opportunity to extend my
role with De Mejur a Mujer to the next generation of leaders in my
community. I am proud to be a part of such an amazing program for
our community," said Liz Epps of Carpenter Technology Corporation.
For more information about the Reading Collegiate Scholars and
Community Mentoring Program, please contact Toni Eckert, Associate
Director of the O'Pake Institute for Ethics, Leadership and Public
Service, at 610-790-1930 or toni.eckert@alvernia.edu or visit us at
http://www.alvernia.edu/about/ethics-and-leadership/ .

16 Women2Women Winter 2018


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Women2Women - Winter 2018

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