Mixing art, mentorship for high school students
UIC students spent time with high school students from the Garfield Park neighborhood on the city’s West Side, providing advice and hope that they can pursue higher education.
Throughout fall semester, the four UIC students visited with the high school students as part of the Local Attainable Mentors Program, started by Mo Bella Russo, a senior in studio arts.
The UIC students shared stories on their college experience during meetings at the Breakthrough FamilyPlex, where Russo and her family lead a weekly afterschool program.
“The UIC students spoke the words that changed the hearts of the high school students,” Russo said. “They’re the heroes.”
The four undergraduate mentors were Ryan Blackmon, an industrial design student; Faheem Rollins, a studio arts major; Latil Willis, an entrepreneurship major, and Jamael “Isaiah Makarios” Clark, a student in communication.
Russo believes that the relatable experiences of the mentors resonated with the students, inspiring and motivating them.
“They shared about their background or where they grew up, their neighborhoods and what they’re studying now,” Russo said. “They talked about basic stuff like FAFSA, about being aggressive and an advocate for themselves.”
After interviewing the mentors, the students created portraits of the speakers using mixed media, such as paint, photography and collage. The portraits of the mentors reflected the thoughts and feelings the students had after their interaction.
Russo hopes the program will inspire the students to follow their dreams.
“Their eyes were lighting up,” she said. “I can see that the wheels were spinning in their heads.”