Girls Inc. and Brescia University 101 students have partnered to create a pen-pal program that mutually benefits both groups.

The program allows girls at Girls Inc. to write letters back and forth with a freshman Brescia student assigned to them.

The program, according to Girls Inc. CEO Tish Correa Osborne, helps develop long-lasting connections for the girls and helps them learn about Brescia and the student experience, which encourages them to look ahead in their academic career.

“As an added bonus, girls are working on literacy skills and making live personal connections with people, not just on social media,” Correa Osborne said. “The girls will get to interact with the students and learn more about them personally (and) work on writing skills.”

She said Girls Inc. intentionally develops opportunities for the girls to see and practice being leaders and role models and wanted to provide that same opportunity for a regular community partner.

Sydney Warren, vice president for institutional advancement at Brescia, said the program was a good service opportunity for her students in BU 101.

BU 101, she said, is a semester-long orientation class for incoming freshmen. During the class, one of the focus areas is in servant leadership.

“We work to instill that idea of servant leadership as part of who a Brescia student is,” she said. “We want them to understand where their education falls within their greater responsibility to the community.”

The focus provides opportunities for freshmen, who are not typically inclined to fill leadership roles on campus and throughout the community, to do so and become role models in the process.

The students in Warren’s BU 101 class write to 40 girls who are new to the Girls Inc. After School Academy.

Each of the girls were paired with a BU 101 student who portrayed common interests as themselves.

Kalaiah King, a freshman and volleyball player for Brescia, said she was paired with girls who might also show an interest in sports.

One of the girls she was paired with has been writing to her about TikTok because doing TikTok dances is one of her hobbies. She also wrote to King about winning “Girl of the Month” at Girls Inc.

“It’s a new relationship that I can’t wait to continue building on,” King said. “I want to help them be better in school and be confident in themselves and have other girls around them that have the same goals. I wish I would’ve had a program like that to help me.”

Warren said the girls also have a tour scheduled for Sept. 24 at Brescia where they will have face-to-face time with their BU 101 pen-pals and learn more about Brescia.

She said the university regularly works with local schools and organizations to get youth on campus as much as possible.

“We know that most children determine whether or not they are going to attend college while they’re still in elementary school,” she said. “Planting those seeds of possibility at that time in their life is so important … so they can go ahead and picture themselves in a setting like this and think about it as an obtainable goal.”

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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