King Summer Scholars Program to Help Boston Middle School Students

King Summer Scholars Program participants (l-r) Solomon Wallace, Zyon Mathis and Obediah Lewis.In 2019, Benedictine College and the Seymour Institute on Black Church and Policy Studies created a partnership that sent college students to Boston to work as tutors and mentors for middle school students through the Martin Luther King Summer Scholars Program. This year, three students are preparing to head off to help students in mathematics and overcome learning loss from the online programs of the pandemic.

Solomon Wallace, a junior, Zyon Mathis, a junior, and Obediah Lewis, a sophomore, will leave June 28 for Boston to meet with Dr. Jacqueline C. Rivers, Executive Director of the Seymour Institute, and her husband, Reverend Eugene F. Rivers, III, a noted political advisor on faith-based initiatives and crusader against gang violence. The three Benedictine College students were recruited for the program by Tyler Shephard, Director of Student Support and Engagement at Benedictine. The program runs until August 6.

“This summer we’ll be working with students who graduated from 8th grade and are heading into high school, students who are struggling.” Wallace said. “I’ll be helping them get their math and language arts skills up. They were hit by COVID pretty hard with the online learning and it impacted their grades.”

The program includes morning academic classes and then afternoon sessions like museum visits or trips to historical sites planned by the college students. Plus there are their own sessions with the Rivers.

“This summer, we’re doing the 5 Ps (Philosophy, Poverty, Personal Commitment, Program, and Politics) plus some very challenging readings,” said Wallace. “We’ll sit down with the Rivers at least five times a week and they’ll want us to discuss the readings and our thoughts on the philosophy of success presented by the 5 Ps. They’re going to challenge our thinking.”

“I like their energy,” Mathis said about the Rivers. “I like their willingness to serve. The great work they are doing in the community is very inspiring to young men such as me and Solomon.”

Wallace said that aside from his own learning experience, though, it is the impact on the young people of Boston that is the most important part of the program.

Dealing with middle school-aged students, teaching, planning trips for the kids, managing their own learning program, traveling and living in a big city can amount to a challenge for the college students participating in the program. But these Benedictine students embrace the challenge and are ready to make a difference in the lives of the children in Boston.

“If it’s a challenge, we’re ready to step up,” said Mathis. “There’s always going to be adversity and challenges, so we just have to rise above it, push through, and help these kids. They’re the future and we need them.”