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Gabrielle Martinez '13 and some of her students at Philadelphia Futures.
Gabrielle Martinez '13 and some of her students at Philadelphia Futures.

Building a Bright Future in Philadelphia

As someone whose future career plan is focused on teaching in an urban environment, Gabrielle Martinez ’13 says that the opportunity to volunteer for the non-for-profit Philadelphia Futures organization was exactly what she was looking to do this summer. Martinez, an English major who is also enrolled in the Bryn Mawr Teaching Certification Program, is interning for the Philadelphia Futures’ Sponsor-A-Scholar (SAS) and Drexel Futures Digital Storytelling programs under the auspices of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC).

Founded in 1989, Philadelphia Futures works to prepare students from low-income families for college by providing mentoring, academic enrichment, college guidance and financial incentives. SAS is the organization’s flagship program. It supports low-income Philadelphia students in their journey from high schools to college by making resources such as SAT preparation, summer enrichment, college counseling, and college campus visits available and accessible. While interning for Philadelphia Futures, Martinez has conducted reading assessment tests with freshmen SAS scholars and is serving as the Haverford College liaison at the College Admissions Marathon for rising SAS seniors.

Earlier this summer, Martinez brought a number of rising seniors in the SAS program to Haverford for a three-day writing intensive program to help them develop their college essays. During that time, Martinez had the opportunity to read many of the essays, which she says focused “on the social issues they have confronted in their homes, schools and communities in Philadelphia.” Martinez found the essays to be moving and inspirational.

Helping the students understand the larger social implications of their experiences was rewarding, says Martinez. “Seeing them embrace their personal narratives and comprehend the significance of their struggles was a moment of triumph for all of us.”

Currently, Martinez is working with sophomore SAS students in the Drexel Futures Digital Storytelling Program. The program asks students to focus on a social issue that affects or interests them and to share their stories about the issue. Martinez says that the topics have ranged from the poor quality of education in Philadelphia to the violence in their communities. Martinez has been helping the students interview members of their communities who are working on alleviating the social problems the students are studying.

“More than anything, I have loved working with students on their writing,” she says about her summer experience. I have felt very satisfied after demystifying a grammatical concept to a student or explaining how to transform a good idea into a descriptive and enjoyable essay. For the past few years, I have gravitated towards the idea of becoming an English teacher and this internship has made the pull even stronger.”

--Jacob Lowy ‘14

Students cross in front of Founders Hall.

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