Featured Student Org: The Backpack Project

Hey Hawkeyes, and welcome back to our #featuredstudentorg series! This week we interviewed the UI student volunteer organization: The Backpack Project.

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Read below for more information on how YOU can get involved with them and make a difference in Iowa City high schools: 

What is the purpose/mission of your organization?

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Our mission is to provide education services, such as tutoring, to high school students of the Iowa City area at no cost to the student. This can be through the form of general homework help, ACT prep, AP prep, college essay reading, and advising. We currently have volunteers at two Iowa City high schools and have previously worked at the Dream Center, a community organization. We work with students of all backgrounds and give them support to pursue their academic goals.

What days/times does your organization typically meet? Do you have any upcoming/recurring events you would like to be made known?

Our volunteers usually volunteer at the high schools once a week for about an hour. We do not have weekly meetings.

We are in the beginning stages of putting together an ACT workshop. 

Why did you personally get involved with this organization? What makes you passionate about this organization? 

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“The Backpack Project has allowed me to build a positive relationship and provide guidance to students academically to ensure they succeed now and in the future. Experiencing the excitement that they get when they finally “click” with a concept they struggled with or get an “A” on a difficult exam has been truly inspiring. I’ve been given the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on those that I tutor, and they’ve had the same if not greater impact on me. I’m grateful that The Backpack Project has allowed me to play a role in making sure that no child is left behind, and all are given the resources and support they need to achieve their biggest and brightest goals!

Priynt Patel, Volunteer | Fourth Year, B.S.- Human Physiology

“Tutoring high school students at Liberty High has been much more rewarding than I first anticipated! It’s been gratifying to work with students who are not only eager to accept help for their current classes but express interest in college, as well. I have learned that tutoring is more than just assisting with academics, but ultimately helping with life!”

Tucker Trefz, Volunteer | Third Year

“Since joining this organization, I have been excited to be able to communicate with nearby high schools, and to become more connected to the Iowa City community. Although I’ve been working more in the background of this organization, I know that I love helping people and seeing their excitement as they start to understand something new. Other volunteering opportunities have given me a way to make a good impact on those around me, and I’m looking forward to doing just that with The Backpack Project!”

Symantha Berzynski, West High Volunteer Coordinator | Third Year, B.S. Evolutionary Biology

What social media does your organization utilize? 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/backpackprojectiowa/

If a student is interested in joining this organization, how should they go about it/who should they contact? Can you join at any time during the year, or are there specific dates?

Our organization relies on volunteers to commit to weekly volunteer shifts, which we usually fill at the beginning of each semester. However, if anyone is interested, they can email us, and we can put them down to receive more information when we begin scheduling for next semester. Our email is studorg-bpproject@uiowa.edu.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

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We are in our second semester since being founded and our first as an official, registered student organization at the University of Iowa.

In our first semester, we had a total of 20 volunteers with 10 actives and now we have 34 volunteers with 20 actives. Last year we tutored/served a total of 49 middle and high school students.

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