University and Scranton School District Mentoring Program Named After Meg Cullen-Brown

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A successful mentoring program matching University of Scranton students with Scranton School District students will return from hiatus under a new name with support from a $11,000 grant from the Margaret Briggs Foundation.

The Meg Cullen-Brown SMART (Scranton Mentors Actively Reaching Teens) Mentoring program, an initiative of Campus Ministries’ Center for Service and Social Justice at the University, will engage 20 high school freshmen who demonstrate high academic ability but also may have exposure to elements that could inhibit their future success.

The program was named after a beloved longtime University of Scranton administrator who died unexpectedly in May 2016. At the time of her death, Meg Cullen-Brown was the director of the Office of the Registrar and Academic Services at Scranton. She also was president of the staff senate and a member of 11 different University committees and was known for her devotion to non-traditional adult and high school student populations.

The program, which is free to the high school students, will match 30 University mentors to 20 mentees in teams of three mentors and two mentees. The mentors will train for 10 to 12 hours with professional staff members and graduate students before embarking on a series of eight interactive sessions that will cover topics such as studying skills, healthy relationships, career goals, social media, interpersonal and decision-making skills, adjusting to high school, building a support network and managing finances.

One program goal is to help the mentees establish a strong relationship with college students who can demonstrate the advantages of performing well in school and attending college. Studies have shown that students who make a positive connection with a mentor have a better chance at academic success.

Other goals of the program, which will celebrate ethnic, economic and other diversity, include increasing the capability of University students to serve as role models, familiarizing local high school students with a college atmosphere and inspiring them to maintain high grades, remain in school and aspire to higher education.

The program will re-launch this September with selection of and training for the mentors, and sessions with the high school students will be conducted in February, March and April of 2018. A graduation ceremony will take place in early May for mentees and their families.

The SMART mentoring program was implemented in 2014 and continued successfully in 2015 as a collaboration between the University and the Scranton School District. The district identified a need to connect vulnerable 13- and 14-year-olds with an activity outside of school.

In addition to the Margaret Briggs Foundation grant, the program is supported by individual, corporate and foundation contributions as well as the Meg Cullen-Brown Memorial Fund, established by her family and friends.

Pat Vaccaro, director of the Campus Ministries’ Center for Service and Social Justice at the University, developed and continues to oversee the SMART Mentoring program. She has worked directly with students for more than 24 years.

Caption: Members of the family of the late Meg Cullen-Brown met with University of Scranton representatives to plan for the fall start of The Meg Cullen-Brown SMART (Scranton Mentors Actively Reaching Teens) Mentoring program, a mentoring program that matches University of Scranton students with Scranton School District students. From left: Michael Brown; Ryan Brown,’16; Pat Vaccaro, director of the Campus Ministries’ Center for Service and Social Justice at the University, who will oversee the program; Michael Brown Jr. ’13 G’16; and Jake Brown ’21.

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