It remains an unfortunate truth that not everyone has access to the education that many people might take for granted.
College students have a wealth of resources at their fingertips, and one organization is doing their part to pass along the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired to the less fortunate.
Over the past year, Enactus, formerly known as Students in Free Enterprise, has developed a partnership with the Great Lakes Recovery Center (GLRC) in Marquette.
Through a grant from the Michigan Campus Compact, Enactus works with troubled teens at the GLRC to provide essential business and career-building skills that they otherwise may not have access to.
“The purpose of the grant is to provide the youth skills that will help them develop their lives after they complete the GLRC program,” said Enactus faculty adviser Ray Amtmann. “These youths are high school age and have either substance abuse or behavioral health issues.”
Amtmann, who also serves as president of the GLRC board of directors, said the group has completed four different seminars so far during the current academic year.
“The seminars have included topics of how to write a resume and cover letter, how to apply for a job, how to interview and how to create budgets and manage personal finances,” Amtmann said.
The seminars, Amtmann said, are usually held on campus and taught by Enactus students from different areas of the college of business.
Amtmann said a key aspect of the program revolves around the relationship between the Enactus students and the youth at GLRC.
“One of the main ideas is to have the information presented by university students are close to the age of the youth,” Amtmann said. “Thus the youth can relate to them in a way that is very different from the normal student-teacher relationship.”
Amtmann said the opportunity for the groups to spend time one-on-one builds a personal relationship and encourages the youth to ask questions.
Even if the kids are only at the GLRC for a few days, or up to two months, Enactus president Parker Foss said they’re eager to learn.
“Working with the kids has been remarkable,” Foss said. “At first they are skeptical, just as I would have been six to seven years ago if some random college students came in trying to teach me something. No one likes to get lectured and not too many people realize the value of education until college or even later.”
Foss also said he looks for ways to earn trust and respect, an essential part of the program.
“One of the ways we do this is talking about our past screw ups and how we, and the students can learn from them,” Foss said. “We get on a one-to-one basis and talk to them about any problems, questions or ideas they may have about the future.”
Senior business major Matt Croschere said most of the youth are more than willing to ask questions and learn from the students.
“They might be shy for the first time, but the second or third time around they’re much more eager, ask us more questions and tell us more about their aspirations,” Croschere said. “We’re there to help remind them that even if they made mistakes in their life, there are plenty of opportunities ahead of them.”
The GLRC, a not-for-profit with 15 different sites throughout the Upper Peninsula, works with youth from a wide area of Michigan, Amtmann said.
The organization offers treatment services from certified counselors and a staff of over 120, including substance abuse assessments, individualized treatment plans, group therapy sessions and recreational activities.
According to the group’s website, Enactus is an international organization that “establishes student programs on campuses around the world[…]Enactus students apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects that improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.”
Feedback from the youth and their counselors has been very positive, Amtmann said, and the program will continue through the rest of the year.
For more information, email Foss at [email protected]