By Holden Sandal
Whatcom’s class Compass 2 Campus mentors to children of low income families. The Compass 2 Campus Program places mentors with kids grades 5-12 in schools traditionally from underrepresented and low-income backgrounds.
The goal of Compass 2 Campus (C2C), is to encourage students to graduate from high school and recognize opportunities in higher education.
The C2C program at Whatcom is currently partnered with Western Washington University as a three credit class and only requires 4 hours of community service.
The students experience a chance for community service and cultural awareness while gaining critical transferrable skills useful for a range of career pathways.
Since its beginning in 2009, C2C at Western has served thousands of students from the fifth, through 10th grades in schools in Whatcom and Skagit counties.
Over the past eight years, Western student mentors have provided over 123,000 hours of mentoring service to younger students.
Britney Newton, A Western student and a lead mentor for C2C, expressed her supports for C2C.
“I think it’s a good idea to get other schools involved and more people in the program.
Just university students doesn’t give every route possible as well. So mentors from community college gives different perspective,” Newton said.
Last fall, Central Washington University opened Compass 2 Campus, encouraging their local youth to consider future education.
The program has also massive amounts of support within the state legislature as well. The hope is to increase the number of students from low-income families and those who are first generation college students.
On Oct. 18, about one-thousand fifth graders from Whatcom and Skagit counties visited Western’s campus to see what a university campus is like.
Maya Solomiren, a Whatcom student and mentor in C2C, said she loves being a part of the program.
“To me, being a role model really means just showing kids that their dreams are achievable. That they too can put in the effort and achieve what they want in life,” Solomiren said.
The C2C Program at Western has won several prominent awards. Among them is the first Washington Association of School Administrators Leadership Award, received in 2012.
In 2015, Western’s Compass 2 Campus has been recognized as a top mentoring program by Mentoring Works Washington.
According to their mission statement on their website, Mentoring Works Washington is a statewide organization dedicated to building and sustaining quality youth mentoring through advocacy, training, technical assistance, research, volunteer recruitment and more. Mentoring Works Washington is one of the nation’s top leaders in the quality mentoring movement.
To achieve expert status, Compass 2 Campus has to go through rigorous State guidelines and paperwork.
According to studies done by Western’s C2C program on the younger students in C2C, showed that mentoring conducted in high-quality programs such as C2C: reduced juvenile delinquency and crime; improved school attendance, grades and high school graduation rates; improved mental health; and lowered risk of youth involvement in such risky behaviors as drugs, and alcohol and tobacco use.
Tara Villalba, an instructor for the C2C program at Whatcom and Western, said she believes what she is doing has a profound effect on all involved.
“I think That Compass 2 Campus is an important class for both the mentors and the kids we mentor, its shows the kids Title1 Schools that college is indeed an option for them after High school and that they can follow any dream they want,” Villalba said.
Villalba also says that any students who are interested in taking the class next quarter should come visit the Wilson Library where the C2C program at Western meets, as for Whatcom students her office is located in Syre Student Center room 217.