by Bob Grawey
At the beginning of the school year at Rogers High School, students with lower grade point averages were invited to participate in STRIVE, a mentorship program to help students overcome obstacles in their high school education.
Two of those students, seniors Dana McCallum and Devin Waters, took part in STRIVE and it has been life changing for each of them.
For both seniors, lack of organization and time management issues were key problems.
Waters would get his homework completed, but then had difficulty finding where he put it. Consequently, many times it did not reach his teachers’ hands. He also had a tendency to procrastinate.
McCallum had a hard time breaking down big assignments or projects, which would then render her unable to get the task done or even started.
McCallum and Waters say STRIVE has helped them become better organized. Rotary members who sponsor the program gave STRIVE students planners and other tools to help them maintain school workloads and schedules.
Neither student has a problem getting homework done and turned in now, and McCallum was able to initiate her own course correction when math posed a problem for her.
Always a real struggle for her, McCallum enrolled in a math night course where she could get more help in understanding math.
Her time management skills have improved, too. STRIVE helped her break down bigger tasks into smaller “bites.”
“It helped me get organized and know what order to do things,” McCallum says. “Which step is most important first and going from there.”
It has helped the senior to avoid her tendency to easily become distracted, too, something that would have derailed even best intentions in the past. STRIVE has given her the tools and strategies to stay more focused.
A change of attitude might be the biggest positive STRIVE influence in McCallum’s life, though.
“I was kind of pessimistic before,” McCallum concedes. “I wouldn’t think I could do things or that I was good enough. I wouldn’t see any way I could get something done. Now I have the mentality that I have to get it done or something worse is going to happen. Now I’m leaning toward the ‘glass is half full’ type.”
STRIVE helped change Waters’ mindset as well.
“It was like, ‘The real world is coming up soon so it’s time for change.’ People (Rotarians) in STRIVE would come in and talk to us about college and success,” Waters says, “and setting up for our future.”
The mentorship program was helpful at a more personal level for McCallum, though.
McCallum says she normally does not get much encouragement to succeed, but two Rogers Rotarians stepped in to fill that role.
She saw both outside of school along with the regular STRIVE meetings. However, one in particular spent time asking the senior how school was going and what she could do to get better results.
“It was kind of cool knowing that someone you just met earlier in the year, and only saw maybe once a month, would believe in you and think that you are going to do good things,” McCallum says. “It’s nice to know someone believes in you.”
It also gave her more confidence to tell people of her dreams. McCallum says she would like to either go to culinary school and open her own restaurant, or get a degree in stage management involving drama. She says it could even lead to opening a dinner theater.
STRIVE has also helped Waters look to his future.
College football is in his future, as he was awarded a football scholarship at St. Cloud State University.
He had thought of a career path involving physical education as well, but has since begun thinking of an education career with a wider scope. As before, though, coaching sports is still a dream he maintains.
Students participating in STRIVE were also taught basic steps in financial planning and how to cope with stress when it comes into their lives.
McCallum says she will take what she has learned in her STRIVE involvement and apply it as she moves forward with life beyond high school.
“Where are you going to go in life if you are always thinking negatively about things?” McCallum reasons. “Always thinking you’re not going to finish your goals or even start them.”
Success is within grasp, she adds, and STRIVE will have been a key influence in getting there.
Waters says success for him is simply doing something he loves, and STRIVE has played a significant role for him, too, in achieving those goals and enjoying the path to get him there.