SIUE’s Community Oriented Digital Engagement Scholars research team and Alton Section National Council of Negro Women, Inc.

EDWARDSVILLE - A Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Community Oriented Digital Engagement Scholars (CODES) research team, in collaboration with the Alton Section National Council of Negro Women, Inc. (NCNW) was recently awarded a $1,000 Student United Way of Greater St. Louis grant that will be used to support 8th grade students of color in realizing their potential.

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The initiative was led by two CODE Scholars, Joyce Tawdros and Juan Pizano, and overseen by Stephanie Batson, CODES research team leader and applied communication studies instructor.

"I am quite pleased with my CODES research team for creating the mentor program and writing the United Way grant to have an impact in the lives of younger generations," said Batson.

Tawdros and Pizano based their proposal on research that demonstrates a significant decrease in educational attainment among students of color.

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"I was driven to this idea because I, myself, needed a mentor,” said Tawdros. “I am originally from Cairo, Egypt, and I moved here in the sixth grade. I longed for someone to guide and support me through that formative time. Because of the lack of direction that I received in my life previously and I decided to introduce myself into mentoring students during my junior and senior years of high school. Through this experience, I felt compelled to continue to make a difference in the lives of students to this day."

"After careful consideration and guidance from NCNW, we decided to focus on 8th grade enrolled in the Alton school district and serve as mentors for them,” said Pizano.

“My goal for this initiative is to encourage kids to continue pursuing their education, and hopefully, they'll be able to share what they have learned from their mentors with others," Pizano added, “This stage is important for the kids as they plan to enter high school, where they will start dropping out. We aim to help with their education, advise them, provide resources and more."

The mentoring program will eventually be expanded to juniors and seniors who are moving into college by providing help through the beginning of the college process, which includes applying for universities/colleges, scholarship and FASFA applications, and future coursework. For now, the sole emphasis is on using the funds for resources and trying to create joy and build relationships between the mentors and students.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville provides students with a high-quality education that powerfully transforms the lives of all individuals who seek something greater. A premier metropolitan university, SIUE is creating social and economic mobility for individuals while also powering the workforce of the future. Built on the foundation of a broad-based liberal education, and enhanced by hands-on research and real-world experiences, the academic preparation SIUE students receive equips them to thrive in the global marketplace and make our communities better places to live. Situated on 2,660 acres of beautiful woodland atop the bluffs overlooking the natural beauty of the Mississippi River’s rich bottomland and only a short drive from downtown St. Louis, the SIUE campus is home to a diverse student body of more than 12,500.

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