Chesapeake, VA
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About Me

Higher Achievement

April 29, 2017

This semester, two of my classes required that I do some community-based learning (CBL) in order to pass. These classes were the second portion of my SSIR Reading to Live (worth half of a credit this time) and Spanish in the Community. Going to two different community-based learning locations every week would honestly have been far too much for me to handle, so my professors allowed me to work with the Higher Achievement program at Thomas C. Boushall Middle School.

As you might've guessed, community-based learning involves having class outside of the classroom and off of the campus. We're meant to engage with and assist people in the communities in and around the city of Richmond in order to learn about the issues we're facing. At UR, our community-based learning opportunities are organized through the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), located conveniently in Tyler Haynes Commons.

Higher Achievement is an afterschool program for elementary- and middle school-aged that not only operates here in Richmond but also in Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. Its aim is to help boost the scholastic achievement of the students who attend it, dubbed Scholars, and to give them positive role models to look up to. It's a very smart organization.

Higher Achievement operates in schools all around the city. As I wrote above, I volunteered with the program at Boushall Middle School, which is located in the Southside area of the city. Not exactly walking distance, so I drove myself and usually other students who also volunteered at the site. If I hadn't been abele to, though, the CCE would have provided shuttle transportation.

For about eight weeks beginning in February, I drove to Boushall every Tuesday to spend time with the Scholars. We hung out, talked about what was going on in their lives, and played a heckuva lot of Scrabble — a good deal of it Spanish. Boushall has a substantial Hispanic / Latino community, so I did have quite a few chances to practice my Spanish with the Scholars. Wish I spoke it as well as many of them did!

Had I been with Higher Achievement longer, I would've started going through a Reading curriculum with them. I didn't quite get to it this semester, but I still think the time I spent with the Scholars was worthwhile. And since I'm going to be in Richmond for most of the summer — who knows? Maybe I'll be back at Boushall.

—Hunter, Class of '19

Call me Hunter, or the chosen one, or Chuck Norris, or the Lone Wanderer from Vault 101, or anything else that's awesome because it would really boost my self-esteem. However you choose to style me, know that my intention is to give you a firsthand impression of life here at the University of Richmond. Late study nights, Saturday evening shindigs, extracurriculars, that sort of thing.

And yes, it has occurred to me that this is an About Me and I've neglected to tell you much about me. So I'm from Chesapeake, Virginia, a place just south of Norfolk that's large enough to be a county but isn't because reasons. There's not much to do in Chesapeake other than going for a dip in the Great Dismal Swamp (ill-advised) or head to a neigboring town to hit the beach, and I think that's part of the reason I spent most of my earlier childhood holed up in my room reading books or playing Playstation. 

I branched out in my high school years, though, and I've developed affinites for genealogy, running, film, and photography. I am not a man of many talents, though among them include the remarkable power to turn my thumb all the way backwards, the ablility to tell you almost everything you'd ever want to know about the Star Wars Expanded Universe (which unfortunately has been declared non-canon, thanks to J.J. Abrams), and the astonishing skill to cook Minute Rice in 58 seconds. My playlist includes mostly oldies, and my favorite movies all came out before I was born. So you might say I'm a bit of a hipster. I've even got my own snazzy red Polaroid camera, which is practically a license to hipster in this day and age, right?

So, yeah, that's me. In conclusion, read on! Hope you enjoy my blog posts!

Why UR?

I'm not a very decisive person. During my senior year of high school, I envied the kids who were certain straight from the get-go where they wanted to go to college. I had applied to several great schools that I thought could offer me a great education, but I had trouble picking which one was the best fit for me. I constantly held debates against myself, weighing the pros and the cons of each school in my head and occasionally and occasionally audibly voicing my concerns a la Gollum: "How about this one?" "No, no, too big. And too far away. Going back and forth to home could prove to be a real bummer." "Good point, but look at their alumni network! They could hook you up with a job fresh out of graduation!" "Ah, true, but check out these student reviews online. You really want to go to a place with this reputation?" "Do you believe everything you read in those reviews?" "Of course I do. They can't put anything on the internet that isn't true." And so on and so on. I still hadn't made a decision by mid-April, so the jury was still out on where I was going just two weeks before the deadline. Pressure from my parents and peers to choose just kept piling on heavier and heavier. Around this time I went to a Richmond Scholars visit, which afforded prospective students who'd been offered scholarships from the University the chance to get a glimpse of life as a student here. The visit was really what sealed the deal for me. The beautiful campus was a joy to explore even in the surprisingly sweltering spring heat. I had the opportunity to sit in on a class, which wasn't very big. Richmond's small class sizes allow for intimate discussions as opposed to drawling lectures and make it rather easy to develop close relationships with professors. I've found that most of them encourage you to meet with them in their spare time, something that might be more difficult to do at a larger institution. While at the Scholars visit, I talked with my host for hours. He gave me a bare bones, down-to-earth explanation of what he thought of Richmond. And I know it's a total cliche, but there's one thing he told me that I really think rings true here at Richmond and life in general: It can be a great and rewarding experience, but only if you put in the effort to make it one. Bottom line, I think Richmond gives students the resources needed to make their college years more than worthwhile, moreso than any other school I checked out. We've got top-notch academics to satisfy any hungry mind, we've got a plethora of extracurriculars to enjoy, tons of chances to broaden our horizons (literally and figuratively), and of course, we've got the chow at D-Hall. All that's really what made me want to spend the next four years of my life here.