When I first arrived on CMU’s campus, I knew I wanted to be involved in some sort of volunteer work with elementary-aged kids. I told my RA this while we were discussing my interests one day, and that’s when she introduced me to the Lunch Buddies program. She explained that it was an off-campus mentoring program where you eat lunch and go to recess with a local elementary student once a week. I looked into it more and discovered that the mission of a Lunch Buddy is to encourage healthy eating & living and to be a positive role model for whoever he or she is mentoring. This all sounded perfect for me, so I applied for the position the day my RA told me about it. I was admitted to the program later that week and was already working with my fourth grade mentee that next Friday.
Lunch Buddies has been a fantastic program to be a part of for so many reasons. From my first day as a mentor up until today, I have seen my buddy progress immensely in the program. He has grown comfortable around me, which makes me very happy because he is quite shy. He loves introducing me to his friends and showing me new games, and he astounds me with his intelligence and maturity. I always look forward to Fridays; even though our time together is short, I love spending time with my buddy and his friends. I love escaping campus for a bit and being around a completely different age group for a while. It is a fun and exciting change of pace for me each week. Being a Lunch Buddy reminds me of how excited I am to have a career working with kids.
Besides the obvious positive mentor/mentee relationship, the Lunch Buddies program has many benefits. My site coordinators really stress the importance of consistency within the mentor/mentee relationship, which has made me very dedicated to the program. Lunch Buddies also gain mentorship skills, as we must attend bi-weekly trainings pertaining to topics about buddy-to-buddy communication. I know Lunch Buddies focuses primarily on the kids, but I feel as though I have gained an incredible amount of experience through this program.
Moving forward, I would love to gain more involvement within the Lunch Buddies program. It is in no way perfect, and there are quite a few things I wish were ran differently. As I progress through the program, I would love to gain higher positions so I can use my voice to help better the RSO as a whole. I look forward to gaining more experience with kids in my college career. Lunch Buddies has definitely solidified my passion for working with kids, and it makes me so excited for what the future holds. Even though it doesn’t relate to speech pathology specifically, I feel as though this program is giving me a glimpse into what my future will look like. I want to be there for students and help them feel more confident in any way that I can as they go about their lives. To know that I’ve already made an impact on my one Lunch Buddy this year makes me so excited for the impact I could make on countless students in my career.