“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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