Building Success for Underserved Youth

Five student volunteers wearing medical masks pose together in a large room

By Matthew Markou, student leader

Volunteering with Student Open Circles has been a truly rewarding experience. I was placed with Pathways to Education, a program that boosts graduation rates in low-income communities where the high school drop-out rate can be up to double the national average. Pathways provides mentorship, tutoring, financial support, and guidance counseling. Every Tuesday evening, my Student Open Circles volunteer group gets to make an impact in the lives of youth by tutoring and mentoring them. We help with homework, test preparation, and provide guidance to students when needed.

We hope to guide these students to academic success in high school and make a lasting impact on their lives; however, I myself have gained far more from this experience than I have given. Through volunteering, I have been able to connect with the Hamilton community and have become aware of the social issues and inequalities that exist not only in Hamilton, but all over Canada. Becoming sensitive to these issues will help me to best advocate for the needs of society as a future healthcare practitioner. The skills I have gained and lessons I have learned through volunteering with Student Open Circles have been life changing. I truly believe that I have not only made an impact in my community but have also become a better person through this experience. In my future healthcare career, I will continue to keep in mind the value of community and giving back. I may be graduating, but even after I leave school, I will never forget the impact that Student Open Circles has had on me.

Picture caption: Matthew (2nd from right) with his Pathways weekly volunteer group
Bonus Read from McMaster Daily News: Yi Wang talks about her involvement in Student Open Circles, how it helped put her life and her PhD work into perspective, and how she was able to mentor children through elementary school and into high school in her volunteer work with us. Yi was an undergrad student in our programs who chose McMaster for her graduate studies so that she could continue to be involved in Student Open Circles. Yi's Story (New Window)