WESTMINSTER -- David Radosevich is committed to making a difference in the way at-risk high school students feel about their education.
The 20-year-old Western Maryland College junior proposed a mentoring program that won for him the second annual Griswold-Zepp Award in Volunteerism given by the college's alumni.
The annual award honors student volunteerism and enables recipients to carry out volunteer projects in the community.
The award of $1,250 will benefit Radosevich and his group of volunteers who will work next fall with 25 ninth- and 10th-graders from Westminster High School who are involved in the Maryland's Tomorrow program.
"I am grateful that we won the award," Radosevich said. "It will give us the chance to improve on what is already a good program. I really feel we can make a difference."
Maryland's Tomorrow is administered by the county school system's Alternatives program and is geared toward students who are at risk of not succeeding in high school.
It encourages students to stay in school by helping to improve their self-esteem, attendance and grades.
Radosevich realized the significance of Maryland's Tomorrow during the past school year, when he and other volunteers from the college's Kiwanis Circle K Club (a community service organization) acted as mentors for about 12 Carroll County ninth-graders.
Throughout the year, Peg Kulow, a resource teacher for Maryland's Tomorrow in Carroll, worked closely with Radosevich and Circle K volunteers.
"The program worked out well," Kulow said. "The ninth-graders were eager to be with the college students, and both groups made good attempts at getting together and building the relationship. The college students supplied a different kind of role model for the high school kids."
As a result of his volunteer experience, Radosevich began to think about other activities he felt could strengthen Maryland's Tomorrow.
"I found some ideas that I thought would make the program better," he said. "I thought it was important to have more group activities which would create more bonding between the students."
Based on his ideas, Radosevich decided to put together
TC proposal and apply for the Griswold-Zepp award.
The proposal addressed numerous aspects of the program, including a definition of mentoring and additional goals.
"I proposed to improve training for the volunteers who work with the students. There are about two to three training sessions which are two hours long," Radosevich said. "Social workers and high school teachers explain the program and give advice on how to react in certain situations. I felt the training program needed more handbooks, videos and speakers."
Probably most important to the proposal were the additional activities intended to build a stronger rapport between students
"There are many group activities that would be good for both the mentors and the students," explained Radosevich. "Some of those included trips to Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center, a museum, an Orioles game and King's Dominion. This will give the students and the mentors a chance to be in a more social setting."
Radosevich, who is president of the Circle K club, also included in his proposal involvement in community projects and career counseling at Western Maryland College.
"About twice a year at the college, we have Career Service Day. I thought this would be a good way for the students to see what it is like when you go to look for a job," Radosevich said. "I also want to get them involved with some of the community projects we do in Circle K. These types of activities will help them see the importance of helping other people."
Radosevich speaks from experience regarding the importance of staying in school and being a productive member in the community. He's a full-time student majoring in psychology, the resident assistant for a residence hall, and runs varsity cross country and track.
The Green Bay, Wis., native likes "to keep busy," and it's his hope that students participating in this fall's Maryland's Tomorrow Mentor Program will come away with an appreciation of a good education.
"I think it is important for kids to stay in school. Education is the key to solving a lot of our nation's problems. With a high school diploma, these kids can go on to college and get better jobs, which will raise their self-esteem," Radosevich said.