As a child, Kathleen Hagelberger remembers how hard it was to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up, especially during her elementary school years when there is often limited exposure to possible jobs and careers. But Hagelberger hopes her involvement in a partnership among RIT's Saunders College of Business, Junior Achievement and Helen Barrett Montgomery School No. 50 in the city of Rochester will help influence a few young minds.
On April 20, the three groups brought together RIT alumni, students and local business leaders, including many from corporate sponsor Lenel, for an all-day learning marathon to educate K-6 children at School No. 50 about business, economics and free enterprise through discussions and hands-on activities. This year marked the 13th year of the program.
"This program entails a creative model that provides each classroom of students the opportunity to interact with a collegiate business student and a working professional, both of whom provide different perspectives on career options and preparation," explained Peter Rosenthal, senior associate director of student services at Saunders College. "It's never too early to engage young people in discussions and activities related to college, careers and business concepts."
Hagelberger, a third-year management information systems and new media marketing double major from Attica, N.Y., volunteered with the program last year and couldn't wait to get back into the classroom to teach the youngsters about cities, zoning and why it's important for the government to collect taxes.
"I love working with the kids, and the project has more of a direct impact than some others that I've participated in," she said. "If there is anything that I can do to help someone else decide what they like or don't like as far as a career is concerned, then I feel that I've been successful in the program."
Brett Daly '03, '05 (marketing, MBA) took time out of his workday as a marketing manager for Ambrell Corp. to volunteer with the program once again.
"I love being able to make connections, in some small way, to students, whether it's having a meaningful exchange, gaining their interest by tying a subject to an interest of theirs, or seeing a lightbulb go on during an activity," he said. "The students always enjoy having us in for a day. It's something new and fun for them that's a break in their normal routine. And it's great for them to see college kids and
During last year's session, Hagelberger recounted that the youngsters were asked to create an invention that solves an everyday problem. Two young women invented a machine that acted like a Roomba vacuum to scoop up animal waste from the sidewalk.
"I thought that was pretty clever," she said.
She said that the young students think seriously about the topics that are presented to them, and that they aren't just getting a "free pass" from class.
This is the second year that Daly and Hagelberger have worked together to team teach in the classroom.
"It really helps to be paired with someone who already has a lot of work experience," said Hagelberger about Daly. "If students have questions about the professional business world, Brett can answer them. I have co-op experience, but it's harder to answer those questions when the job is temporary. I've also learned that it's really important to continue volunteering as a working professional and to continue to be involved in your community."