EC Scholars Tutor, Mentor in Belvoir's Hispanic Community
By Vicki Luttrell
Thirty students from East Carolina University’s EC Scholar program have embarked on a project of learning about the Latino community by tutoring and mentoring kindergarten through second grade Hispanic children at Belvoir Elementary School.
“The goal of this project is to provide educational experiences for emerging health care providers – the ECU Scholars – that promote and develop community and cultural awareness and understanding of the migrant Latino community, while providing valuable tutoring for the children,” said Michael Bassman, EC Scholars program director.
The EC Scholars program began in the late 1990s and is a comprehensive, four-year educational experience including a competitive, merit-based academic scholarship. More than 90 percent of the students enrolled are pre-med and four are guaranteed admission to the Brody School of Medicine each year.
“Because many of the EC Scholars enter the program with significant advanced placement credit, they have bypassed many humanities and social science credits,” said Bassman. “In addition, many do not have the experience or exposure to rural communities, cultural and social diversity, and agricultural occupations. Given the recent influx of members of the Latino community there is a great need for future health-care professionals to develop a comprehensive cultural understanding of this community.”
Each year, an EC Scholar is paired with a student from Belvoir Elementary School for the duration of the ECU academic year and will be involved with visits to the families’ homes, a working farm, agricultural industrial sites, migrant health clinics, the Pitt County Memorial Hospital emergency room, and trips into the families’ communities.
According to one of the students participating in the project, Chris Munier, working one-on-one with the children and their parents is an opportunity to get a better understanding of how the world works. “I am experiencing different types of people with different situations and different cultures. It is an enriching, educational and stimulating process. Giving attention to people who need help is always positive,” he said.
In addition to the culturally diverse experience these students get in Greenville, they are also encouraged to study abroad as part of the EC Scholar program. While some have taken this opportunity, others from around the world have come to ECU to participate in this program.
This year, seven of the EC Scholars are from Finland, one is from Lithuania, and the rest are from North Carolina. The international students are part of a program that began this year, the International Student Scholars Program.
“While serving the developmental needs of the EC Scholars, this project also serves some critical educational needs of our Latino population by providing valuable tutoring and mentoring,” said Bassman. “We are working closely with teachers and the Belvoir Elementary School librarian to make sure the one-on-one help we are giving is making a difference. It is important we are involved in the community and this is one way the EC Scholars can give back.”