WBU student presents at international convention

Release Date: November 11, 2009

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University student Jennifer Phillips, the driving force behind the student-led Apostolos mission group, had the opportunity recently to discuss the goals of her mentor program with a national audience.

Phillips and Associate Professor of Psychology Deborah Lavender-Bratcher traveled to Indianapolis, Ind., where they conducted a workshop session at the North American Association of Christians in Social Work convention on Oct. 31. In the session, Phillips and Lavender-Bratcher spoke about the success they have seen through the Apostolos mentor program, developing positive relationships between college and high school students.

“Because of the success we had last year, we thought that we should share what we are doing in our community,” Phillips said.

A senior from El Paso, Phillips is majoring in sociology and plans to pursue her master’s degree in social work once she completes her undergraduate education. After hearing concerns from Plainview community leaders about the need for positive influence among local teenagers, Phillips approached Dr. Rick Shaw, assistant professor of religion, about developing a group to minister to high school students. The high school counselor selects students who she feels can be helped through the mentor program and gives them the opportunity to participate. Those students who chose to do so are paired with a Wayland student.

Although the program has grown in the past year, Phillips said they are always looking for more mentors to participate.

“There is a greater need at the high school for more mentors,” Phillips said. “We did grow from last year. We have 42 mentors this year, but we are still looking for more.”

According to Dr. Shaw, the Apostolos program is supplying approximately 1/3 of the necessary mentors to fill the list of students wanting to participate in the program.

“The program is voluntary on everyone’s behalf,” Phillips said. “The mentors are volunteers and the students are asked if they want to participate, and they have the choice to be in the program or not.”

Mentors meet with the high school students twice a week. One meeting takes place on the Wayland campus where they have a chance to talk, play games, tutor the students and just get to know one another. The Wayland students also meet with those they are mentoring for lunch once a week at the high school campus.

Approximately 20 people from the conference attended the workshop session with Phillips and Lavender-Bratcher, some of whom were students but most already had social work degrees and were working in the field. It was an experience Phillips won’t forget.

“It was terrifying,” she said. “It’s intimidating to be talking to these people as an undergrad and saying here’s a possible solution to their problem.”

Several of the attendees did express interest in the program and asked Phillips and Lavender-Bratcher for more information with the intent of implementing a similar program in their communities.