Helping High-Risk Students: How Volunteering Opened my Eyes

By Ben Sharp

Over the past year and a half, I have been privileged to volunteer weekly at Lubbock ISD’s Cavazos Middle School through Communities in Schools. Cavazos students primarily come from low-income, Hispanic families. This experience has expanded my view of the spectrum of challenges facing the American education system, while also enabling me to be directly involved in the lives of high-risk students.

Having attended a school in a rural, low-income community, I was only aware of the issues facing these schools. However, my experience at Cavazos has given me first-hand knowledge of a wider array of challenges facing educators in the United States. For instance, the students at Cavazos are not allowed to wear red clothing because the color red is associated with local gangs. This was a startlingly harsh reality for me. I realized temptations and obstacles, which are absent from rural areas, counterbalance the opportunities available in large urban districts.

Realizing the challenges Cavazos students face daily made my work with them more satisfying. I volunteer on Tuesday afternoons, leading a group of approximately 15 boys. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of my involvement is witnessing their transformation. Many of these boys had laughed at or dismissed the idea of attending college, but they now tell me they want to be computer engineers or write children’s novels: aspirations typically absent from high-risk students. The visible effects of consistent encouragement, mentorship, and tutoring on these guys have ignited my passion to see communities engaged in their local schools.

About the Author:

Ben is an economics major from Borger, TX. During his time at Texas Tech, he has been involved in many student organizations including Beta Upsilon Chi Fraternity, Student Alumni Board, and the Student Government Association. Ben currently serves as the student body president and as the reigning homecoming king. In his spare time, he volunteers as a mentor through communities in schools. Ben is anticipating attending law school after graduation.