“Mentoring Matters” – by Eileen McKeown


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As a freshman at Penn, I joined a mentoring group, PennPals, and my love
of mentoring was solidified by a 4 foot tall, 9 year old girl named
Mahaleah. As a sophomore, I served on Penn’s Big Brothers Big Sisters
(BBBS) board, and interned at BBBS’ Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA)
headquarters. There, my research culminated in statistics that validated
the value of mentoring and were used as part of a campaign to recruit
potential volunteers and donors.

In junior year, I was appointed Penn BBBS student director. Membership
in Penn BBBS soared and grew to serve 561 children. When Penn’s BBBS
made its 1000th match, the televised celebration symbolized my ability
to instill passion for mentoring into BBBS board members, who spread
enthusiasm across campus. Penn’s BBBS became the largest university
chapter in the country and the largest single source of volunteers in
SEPA. At the request of BBBS SEPA, I wrote a 50 page Handbook so other
universities could model their program after Penn’s.

My extracurricular activities have used my classroom learning in an
experiential way and combined my passion for public service with my
interest in technologyMy thesis, “The Role of Information Systems in
Community Service Fundraising and Advertising at the University of
Pennsylvania,” studied the most effective use of information technology
to spread an organization’s mission. First, I surveyed current discourse
about nonprofit information system utilization and drew parallels to
community service groups. I then interviewed experts in the field and
surveyed community service leaders and Penn students to find emergent
themes. Initially, I expected to confirm the traditional notion that
newer information systems, like e-mail, had obliterated the use of older
information systems, like direct mail. Instead, my research proved that
combinations of new and old information systems were most effective.
Finally, my thesis is useful for my work with BBBS this fall as I use
what I learned to raise campus awareness.

The master in Public Policy at Georgetown will allow me to continue my
approach to youth policy and science studies while giving me new
scholarly insights through research under the guidance of Columbia
professors. My primary scholarly interests will focus on understanding
inequalities in youth access to community initiatives run by nonprofits
or government agencies.. I will focus on the ways access to information
technology contributes to creating or alleviating inequalities in access
to community initiatives. I plan to investigate how access to
information technologies varies across urban and rural communities,
socioeconomic status, or parental education level, and therefore impacts
youth participation in community initiatives.

The people I encounter as a scholar and public servant influence my own
life and I expect similar encounters at Georgetown. Dedicating myself to
the study of inequality through sociology and public service is the
least I could do in return for the gifts that education and community
service give me. My scholarly and academic pursuits have made humanity
my first priority, put compassion before competition, generosity before
selfishness, humility before superiority, and dedication before

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