Street Scholars Celebrates its One-Year Anniversary Print

earthy young marcus austin ron moss yema lee victoria perez

On June 14, 2013, the Street Scholars Peer Mentoring Program celebrated its one-year anniversary together. We have a lot celebrate!

We have achieved so much in the past year.  We completed an evaluation of graduation rates of fomerly inarcerated students at Merritt College. We developed a Street Scholars position statement, conceptual framework, and program model.  We just completed data collection for our qualitative study of formerly incarcerated adults' experiences in college and with peer mentoring.  We are particularly excited about this last acheivement because it was a primary goal of the team when we started one year ago!

For our qualitative study, the Street Scholar Leaders conducted four focus groups and six individual interviews with current and former Merritt College students.  The Street Scholar Leaders asked participants about their experiences entering college after being incarcerated and how school impacted their drug and alcohol use and reintegration. The focus group and interview participants shared their challenges and successes as well as how peer support helped them through school and with establishing a healthy and peaceful life for themselves in the community.

The Street Scholars team is hard at work analyzing the data but so far the results from this study show that school helps recovery, reduces criminal behavior, and enhances self-esteem. Our findings also suggest that the challenges to academic success are both practical, e.g. poor study habits, and emotional, e.g. feelings of failure at not being able to meet the demands of school, but, support from peers encourages academic success.  To tempt you further about our exciting forthcoming results, here are two narratives that demonstrate the impact of school on criminal behavior and the importance of peer mentoring!

Narrative 1. Really, I just came up here [to Merritt College] just to have something else to do…and then once I started, I start liking what I was doing…school helped me because, right now, I could be in the streets grinding, selling dope, but I choose not to because I want to stay in school and finish what I started…I’m majoring in Community Social Service…school really helped me, because I’m a in-the-streets type of cat, you know?  And…it keeps me out of the street.

Narrative 2. When I first came here [to Merritt] — lost — I was sitting at the computer in the career center trying to pick my classes, and I can’t even remember the last time I sat in front of a computer. It had to be at least 12 years. And this dude walked up to me and said, “What you trying to do, get your life together?” “Yeah, I am really!” And that’s what I said! At first, it kind of shocked me, because this dude kind of big…And he gave me the game…And now it’s like you wouldn’t believe — in 18 months…now it’s like I’ve got my home here. And that dude was Ron [one of the Street Scholars Leadership Team]. That’s what peer mentoring is.

We are excited about what is coming from this data and plan to be finished with our analysis by the end of the summer. The findings from our analysis will be used to develop the Street Scholars "Owner's Manual", our guide to training peer mentors and providing mentoring services to formerly incarcerated college students.

Below are some pics of the Street Scholars Leaderhship Team in analytic action!

victoria and earthy reading

Victoria and Earthy share a cerebral moment.

marcus reading

Marcus in an analytic place.

ron reading

Ron deep in thought.