Shemar Popplewell said it’s been a “pretty big struggle” to keep up his grades in math and other subjects at Roxbury Prep Charter School in Boston where he is an eighth-grader. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on schoolwork, he said, because he runs a landscaping business with his cousin on the weekends to earn money. But with the help of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) students volunteering as tutors at his school, his grades have improved.
Popplewell is one of 30 middle school students at the Mission Hill school who receive weekly tutoring in math and science from HSPH students. The program was started by Iny Jhun, an enthusiastic student ambassador for HSPH’s Office of Diversity, which provides programming support for the initiative as part of its educational outreach efforts to underrepresented youth. Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon the HSPH students walk to the Roxbury school to meet with their students. Since last November, 30 HSPH students have provided a total of over 250 hours of tutoring.
“It’s so great to see my peers invested in tutoring so passionately,” said Jhun, a third-year ScD student in environmental health who hails from Lincoln, Mass. “It’s incredible to see the level of dedication of the tutors and the impact on the students.”