YDI educates inner-city kids

Busloads of neighboring Trenton high, middle and elementary school students braved the frosty bus ride to the College on Nov. 19 to be met by the College’s Bonner Community Scholars and begin what would be an eye-opening day at the Youth Development Institute (YDI) Program.

The students, who are receiving scholarships for countless hours of community service, organized the Youth Development Institute and acted as guides for the high school students.

Workshops discussing topics from masculinities to racial stereotypes to creative writing were conducted for the Trenton students. The college-style classes were taught by College freshmen as they satisfied their Community Engaged Learning requirement.

Eight Freshman Seminar Program (FSP) classes created the workshops for the 200 inner-city pupils. They felt strongly about their contribution to the community.

“We are trying to lay out the stereotypes and what goes on in the media,” Brian Roddy, freshman open options business major, said before his workshop titled “Does race matter?”

“It was a good learning experience for both us and the students. It’s important to reach out to them and show that what they think is not the case,” Nick Hvasta, freshman criminology major, said after a masculinities workshop dealing with the stigmas attached to traditional gender roles.

“It’s a classic win-win situation,” Michael Robertson, professor of English, said regarding the YDI program. “The only way to learn something well is to teach it. This program gets students excited about the topic.”

The YDI had a dual purpose. Tied with educating students on social issues was the underlying tone that a higher education can be a realistic future for many would-be first generation college freshmen.

“We are taking a step forward in improving the quality of life for students around here,” Andrew Amadeo, junior finance major, said.

Patrick Donahue, Director of the Bonner Center, summed up the program, as well as the center, best.

He said, “As a public institution and a neighbor, we are concerned about the education of the next generation and we want to share our resources to help out Trenton colleagues to put the students on the path to success.”