Southern Law Youth Network (SLYN), a newly created pipeline mentoring program, connects SULC students with area high school juniors and seniors.
February 16, 2016, marked the SLYN kick-off with a visit to Tara High School, according to Alvarez J. Hertzock III, the SLYN program coordinator and founder of the project. “These visits will continue the mission of connecting with and helping to provide a positive experience for the next generation,” Hertzock said.
Second-year evening students Earle Seagle, Brittnay Waugh, and Dmitrius McGruder spoke to approximately 40 juniors and seniors at Tara on a variety of topics, including college readiness, getting into law school, the importance of disciplined studying, and community involvement.
On February 17, 2016, the SLYN program visited with Glen Oaks High School students. Second-year evening students Mareshah Wheeler and Dadrius Lanus were guest speakers to 60 students from varied classes, including social studies and humanities.
The students were encouraged to register to vote as soon as they turn 18, especially those that will be 18 years old before the November 2016 election.
The SLYN program wrapped up Week 1 on February 18 with its third school visit at Madison Preparatory Academy. Waugh and McGruder spoke to juniors and seniors at Madison Prep who have earned a 3.0 GPA or higher and were very eager to hear advice on college and life after high school.
The message of holding one’s self to a higher standard and being the best version of self that you can be was well received by the students, Waugh said.
The students were reminded that within the context of “being themselves,” they should be cautious of the evolving world in which they live. “With the emergence of social media and more-connected world, people are always waiting for you to make the simplest mistakes,” she said.
In addition to attire and self worth, the students were reminded of why they need to be careful with whom they choose to associate. “Not every person that you hang out with has your best interest at heart. You need to surround yourself with positive, like-minded people that will keep you focused and on the right track, said McGruder.
“I rely on and compete with my Law Center study group on a regular basis. We depend on each other. We are like a family. Most members of my study group are in the top five to ten percent of our class, and that is because we build on each other,” he said.
“I also used to work for the prison system as a sheriff, and I can say from personal experience that the majority of the young kids that come in as first offenders just happened to be at the wrong place, with the wrong people, at the wrong time.”
Wheeler, Seagle, and third-year student Mack James spoke to two groups of students at McKinley Senior High School during the school’s career day on February 25. SLYN members in collaboration with the McKinley High staff answered questions and concerns of graduating seniors. James emphasized the role of teachers and counselors as significant resources available to the students. “You have a lot of great resources here. Utilize your teachers, because you’ll need them as references for scholarship opportunities in the future,” he said.
When asked why he chose to participate in SLYN, Lanus stated: “As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful tool that you can use to change the world.’ The Southern Law Youth Network answers the call by teaching students how to connect academics with scholarship.”
“My experience with this organization has been nothing short of amazing and I cannot wait to participate again,” Lanus said.
According to Hertzock, the success of this new program was depended on the support and efforts given by its members as well as the various high school affiliates and faculty that made such mentoring opportunities possible. “To even have one student inspired or encouraged to pursue his or her dream and to fulfill his or her academic potential made this program worthwhile,” he said.
Earle Seagle and Brittnay Waugh at Tara High School.