GM Student Corps Teams Make a Difference in Their Communities
For many high school students, these are not words associated with summer vacations.
Yet, they were the day-to-day realities for a group of Metro Detroit students who spent their summer doing much more than going to the beach. They brought revitalization and beauty to their communities.
For the second year in a row, GM sponsored Student Corps, an opportunity for high school students at 12 area schools to learn leadership and life skills while working on community service projects. More than one hundred students participated in the program this summer.
The students worked with GM retiree mentors and student interns from University of Detroit Mercy to design their service project, plan and budget the project and then complete the work. They also heard from community leaders, career advisers and area professionals as part of their life skills training. Student projects ranged from landscaping school courtyards and area parks to working with area soup kitchens and children’s programs.
Ahmond Jenkins attends River Rouge High School, where he will be a senior. “This program is important because it taught me to be a leader,” he said. The River Rouge project involved painting the cafeteria and the cyber café and refurbishing the football stadium. For the students, it was important to brighten up the school and feature the school colors and mascot to increase school pride. “We worked 24 hours a week, and that included classes from the GM team and the UDM leadership, said Jenkins. “We learned how to interview (for jobs) and how to be good leaders. I know these skills will help me after graduation.”
Sadeeque Mohamed was a participant in the 2013 GM Student Corps program, and he has already seen dividends from his experience. Using the salary from Student Corps he was able to open his own cell phone repair business during his senior year at Hamtramck High School. “For a long time I had been helping out at a store run by a friend of my family’s. People had always suggested I should start my own business fixing the phones because there was a need for it,” Mohamed said. “After Student Corps, I was able to use the funds to rent space in a cell phone store to repair the phones. Thanks to the skills I learned I was successful immediately. Now, as I prepare to go to Ann Arbor for college, I am able to sublet my business to another employee. I have a good reputation within my community.”
The GM retirees who participate also see a benefit. “I entered the program with the intention that I would be a mentor and coach and contribute to the development of the students to prepare them for some life challenges,” said Patricia Roberts, who worked with the River Rouge High School team. “I received much more for myself as this was also a life-changing event for me. For two years running I have been fortunate to work with some outstanding future leaders of tomorrow.”
In the coming weeks, students at 12 area schools will return to brighter hallways, landscaped entryways and courtyards and improved community parks thanks to the GM Student Corps team.