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Students to bond during second Mentor Walk
by Noreen Lewis Cochran
ncochran@neighbornewspapers.com
September 10, 2012 06:11 PM | 2137 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Nathan Self<br>
Kashi Sehgal of the Sandy Springs-based Campus Community Partnership Foundation displays Mentor Walk items to be used Saturday at Agnes Scott College in Decatur.
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Kashi Sehgal, program director for special projects at the Sandy Springs-based nonprofit Campus Community Partnership Foundation, said a Saturday stroll on the Agnes Scott College campus in Decatur may convince at-risk youngsters to stay in school.

“It’s unavoidable to not notice the high school dropout crisis,” the Lovett School graduate said about Georgia’s 32 percent nongraduation rate.

Sehgal said the nonprofit already has the framework in place to help.

“We focus on innovative [college] student service projects that use what they’re learning at school and apply it to a community need,” the Sandy Springs resident said.

To increase the number of Georgia students walking in graduation caps and gowns, the nonprofit’s college student partners invented the Mentor Walk in 2011.

“They’re trained as mentors for the day to engage at-risk kids in conversation about why school is cool,” Sehgal said. “It’s important to ask [kids] questions first and find out what they’re interested in. Then you can talk to them about why college has so much to offer. There’s something that’s going to pique their interest, whether they’re an athlete, or whether they love math or they like to cook.”

Subjects can turn into careers, she said, which will help economic development.

“You have to put education first if you want business to flourish,” Sehgal said. “Because without that, we don’t recruit the companies into Georgia that we want to be recruiting because they don’t want to send their kids here, nor do they have a workforce to work at the companies. There’s so much that can be done but it all starts with an education.”

It’s a concept embraced by Carolyn Young, a Sehgal family friend and the event’s namesake.

“My brother Kabir and I look up to her and Ambassador [Andrew] Young as godparents,” Sehgal said about the couple, who are expected be among 500 participants at the event.

“She’s a mentor to a lot of kids. She really embodies what this is about — taking the time to care about the child.”

Agnes Scott President Elizabeth Kiss said she welcomes the event.

“Children need mentors to help them set goals and develop dreams, and mentoring is a vital tool to introduce at-risk students to the pleasures and possibilities of a college education,” she said. “Together, we can help young people aim high and build a better future for themselves and, ultimately, for all of us.”

If you go

o What: Mentor Walk

o When: Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

o Where: Agnes Scott College, 141 E. College Ave., Decatur

o Cost: $30 for mentors; free for high-school and middle-school students; includes breakfast, lunch and T-shirt

o Benefits: Campus Community Partnership Foundation

o Information: http://mentorwalk.org
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