Q & A with Rutgers–Camden Civic Scholar Stephanie Bolger

bolger1-cropSince its inception in fall 2011, the Rutgers–Camden Civic Scholars Program has partnered with more than forty organizations in Camden, with civic scholars contributing to projects and initiatives ranging from community building, healthcare, volunteer recruitment, homeless outreach, youth program enrichment, college access, and urban environmental justice. Civic scholars commit to performing 300 hours of community service over the course of an academic year, participating in various activities, serving internships, and/or completing the hands-on aspects of service-learning courses.

Major: Biology

Service Sites and Roles: Sixth-grade teacher, TeenSharp; intern, Rutgers–Camden’s Office of Student Engagement

Expected Graduation: May 2016

Hometown: Severna Park, Maryland

High School Attended: Severna Park High School

What inspired you to become a civic scholar?

Since a young age, I’ve always given back to the community. My mom raised me to do so, so it seems natural for me. I applied to the civic scholars program because I saw an opportunity to perform community service and receive a scholarship. I thought, “Why not? I’ve been doing community service all my life, so why would I stop now?”

Who personally inspires you to serve others and why?

I would have to say my mom, Diane. She has always been a selfless person, who adopted two children and lived her life as a social worker.

What has your experience been like volunteering for TeenSHARP?

bolger2TeenSHARP caters to underrepresented students in middle and high school to prepare them for college access and leadership opportunities. As a sixth-grade teacher, I make lessons according to Common Core standards so that the sixth-graders can supplement what they are already learning in school.

The sixth-graders that I teach are really great kids. Even though it can be hard work and exhausting to get a group of sixth-graders to focus and concentrate on math for three hours on a Saturday morning, it pays off when they tell me that the way I taught a concept made it easier for them to understand, or that they improved their math grade in school.

How have you grown in your role?

The co-founders, Tatiana and Atnre Alleyne, are such confident and inspiring people. They’ve already accomplished so much in their time, which inspires and motivates the volunteers. I think that I can speak for the volunteers when I say that Tatiana and Antnre give us a lot of trust and responsibility to do our tasks in order to help the program run smoothly. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing at first, but over time, I gained that same trust and confidence in myself that Tatiana had in me.
NOTE: Both Tatiana Poladko Alleyne and Atnre Alleyne are 2007 graduates of Rutgers University–Camden.

What role do you see Rutgers–Camden Civic Scholars serving in Camden and the South Jersey region?

I believe that Civic Scholars serve as a mechanism for connecting the community in the City of Camden with the Rutgers–Camden community. Civic Scholars are encouraged to immerse themselves in the city, to get to know the people, and to provide much-needed services. We want to get rid of the negative stigma towards Camden, and a big part of that is having our own experiences in the city.

How has the Civic Scholars program and the Office of Civic Engagement provided a support system for your service as a Civic Scholar?

Chris Countryman has been really great as the coordinator and mentor for all of the Civic Scholars, because he’s always around to give us advice about our service, school, and schedule.

Chris and the other staff members in the Office of Civic Engagement are always open to hearing our input on new ideas or projects that we or someone else may want to start or take on. It’s nice having an entire department and office to be able to look to if we had an idea to change, help, or start something.

Posted in: Community Outreach

Comments are closed.