Whitnie Szutu has been a volunteer tutoring students in the College Town program with Reality Changers for nearly a year and a half.
What is the biggest challenge your students are facing due to the impacts of COVID-19?
I think the biggest challenge that my students are facing right now is feeling disconnected from their friends due to the quarantine. They’ve told me that they miss their friends. Losing the social aspect of their education must make it more difficult to cope and focus with all that is happening right now, especially with the transition to online classes.
How did it feel when you were able to provide support to your students?
I always look forward to the programs at Reality Changers on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The support I provide the students ranges from small talk, to academic support, to being a listening ear for personal concerns. It feels rewarding to be able to be there and support my students during this time of uncertainty and worry. I know that they are still hanging in there and being able to catch up with what is happening in their life. Hearing their priorities reassures me that the students and their families are still doing well.
With so many great organizations to support, why should individuals choose to support Reality Changers?
Reality Changers is such an integral community for the students. All the staff goes above and beyond to provide a safe place of unconditional support. Every person involved has a meaningful impact to how the kids succeed, whether it’s academic or personal. I think supporting Reality Changers means being able to provide more students the resources to pursue their dreams and make their families proud. Being able to go to college is not something that everyone has the financial or emotional resources for, but Reality Changers strives to make sure each of their students gets the resources they need.
What do you think other people should know about Reality Changers?
I think people should know that Reality Changers is more than just a program, but it’s a family of students, staff, and tutors who all care for each other. On top of that, Reality Changers helps make sure students are well-rounded individuals, so that they reach personal and professional success. The longer I have volunteered for Reality Changers, the more I’ve learned that there is more to each student than meets the eye. The students are all bright and unique, and their level of ambition is outstanding. Speech Night is definitely a great showcase to get a glimpse of how much these students overcome and accomplish, so I would definitely recommend everyone to attend at least one!
What are some of your hopes for the future?
I hope I get to bake brownies for my students soon! I miss them a lot, and I want to see them excel in their classes, get accepted to the college of their dreams, and walk across that graduation stage. I hope that Reality Changers continues to positively impact students across the county, who will eventually become leaders across the world.