Jessany Williams was 12-years-old when she first heard of Hamline University.
As a 7th grader, she became involved with the McVay Youth Partnership, a program in which Hamline students provide mentorship to urban middle-school students across the Twin Cities.
Today, as a recipient of a scholarship specifically for McVay alumni, she is fully-enrolled as an undergraduate Piper.
“I'm not sure if my mentors know how big of an impact they made in my life,” Williams said.
The McVay program began in 2005 and has grown since then to four sites across the metro area, serving over 100 young students per year. Hamline students spend time three afternoons per week, providing homework help, facilitating service-learning, and building community with the youth they serve.
“They’re wonderful role models,” Jane Krentz, director of the McVay Youth Partnership, said. “They make such an incredible difference in the lives of these young people.”
Williams agrees, saying that her McVay leaders inspired her to achieve and pursue a college education. She also went on to a year-long exchange program in Japan through the Rotary Youth Organization.
“Living on my own in a foreign country was challenging,” Williams said. “But the communications and problem-solving skills I learned in McVay definitely helped me.”
Williams is not the first to make the full circle from McVay to Hamline; in 2010, sisters Dayliar and Zin Zin Htoo became the first recipients of the McVay scholarship as undergraduate students. They, along with Williams, are once again involved with the McVay program, only this time serving in the same mentorship roles that made such a big different for them.
“I’m on the other side now,” Williams said. “I want to make that same impact in other young people’s lives.”