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URI volunteers give middle school students a taste of college life during annual 'Shadow Day'

By Farah Casalini
On February 22, 2012

  • A University of Rhode Island student mentor led visiting middle-school students in the URI fight song to end 'Shadow Day.'. Amy St. Amand | Cigar


Dozens of University of Rhode Island students volunteered yesterday to have a shadow follow them around all day. You just might have been sitting next to one in class.

These shadows are seventh and eighth grade students who were offered the opportunity to accompany a URI student during a typical day on campus through The College Crusade of Rhode Island and Feinstein Civic Engagement Program's "Shadow Day."

"The goal is to make [the middle school student] want to go to college," the education intern for the Feinstein Civic Engagement Program junior Gina DeLeo, said.

These middle school students, also known as "crusaders," were paired with a URI student volunteer and accompanied his or her to classes and lunch, and sometimes, were given a campus tour.

"They all go to at least one class and one lunch," coordinator for the Feinstein Civic Engagement Program Sarah Miller, said.

At the end of the day, all of the crusaders gather back together to complete a scavenger hunt of everything they had seen on campus throughout the day.

"The goal is that they leave with some factual information about URI," Miller said.

The College Crusade of Rhode Island and Feinstein Civic Engagement Program has teamed together for the past eight to 10 years to put together this program," Miller said.

"There is positive feedback every year," Miller said.

For this year's 48 crusaders, there were 60 URI students who volunteered to be shadowed for the day, from all different majors and most of whom Miller said she had never seen before.

"[Shadow Day] is a great opportunity to volunteer because it's an easy way to give back without having to commit," Miller said.

Madison Maynard, a freshman business major, is among those volunteers who said she decided to participate in "Shadow Day" because she needed to complete community service hours.

"But now that I'm here, I'm happy I'm here," Maynard said. "I needed it to knock some sense into me."

She took her two shadows, one from Samuel Slater Junior High School and the other from the Segue Institute for Learning, on a tour of the campus. When they were asked about their experience as a shadow so far, they had smiles on their faces and said lunch at the Mainfare Dining Hall in Hope Commons was their favorite part.

"It's a great opportunity for [the middle school students]," DeLeo said about the program. "It could change the way a kid looks at going to could make all the difference in the world."

The Feinstein Civic Engagement Program is an on-campus institution that facilitates student volunteering projects and offers students the opportunity to participate in "direct service and advocacy work that meets local, state, national and global community needs," according to its website.



The College Crusade of Rhode Island is a state-run college-readiness and scholarship program designed to help motivate students from low-income urban school districts to prepare for life in college.

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