I’ve been able to do lots of cool things in my career with the Stanford Libraries, but we started something today that may well end up being the thing I will always be most proud of. We created a program to give paid summer internships to local aspiring first generation college kids. We partnered with Eastside College Preparatory School to identify graduating seniors (and one rising junior) who were interesting in working for the Stanford Libraries this summer.
Our goal for the program is to provide paid job opportunities for local students from groups and communities who are historically underrepresented in higher education, especially low-income and/or aspiring first generation college students. Our vision is that by doing so we will contribute to their future success as students, and we will inspire in them a love of libraries. I think the key elements of our program are that the jobs pay a decent wage, and that we are not specifically focused on aspiring librarians. We think that spending the summer working in a university library will give them an advantage when they start college in the fall, and we hope it will inspire in them a lifelong love of libraries; but we don’t expect to create future librarians (not that there’s anything wrong with that). For me, it was also important that we target the summer between high school graduation and college. That transition summer is a difficult one for many kids, but it is an especially important and potentially vulnerable time for first generation college kids.
Our first cohort of interns includes 6 recent Eastside graduates, all of whom will be the first in their families to attend college in the fall, and 1 rising junior. The recent graduates will be heading off to great schools in the fall: Stanford, Duke University (Go Blue Devils!), Emory University, St. Mary’s University (Indiana), and UC Riverside. In addition to providing these students with paid summer jobs in the libraries, our program will include enrichment activities designed to increase the interns’ awareness about key sources of support available at their future college. Activities will include tours of campus, multi-media workshops, guest speakers, and an introduction to using a college library.
All the credit for pulling this off and doing all the real work goes to the incredible Felicia Smith. Inspiration for the program comes from my amazing wife, whose work with at-risk youth in San Jose got me thinking about how I might be able to leverage the resources of Stanford Libraries to make a difference for a few local kids.
I’m funding this with salary saving this year, but will hope to get real funding for it moving forward. Wish us luck!