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The 5 Reasons I Volunteer at The Emily K Center

1. The Students -
This first reason is a no-brainer for anyone who has interacted with the students at the Emily K Center. The enthusiasm and dedication that these students demonstrate is astounding, and make it an absolute pleasure to volunteer here twice a week.  Over the last year and a half, I have gotten to know two wonderful groups of fifth graders and several other individual students at the Emily K Center. Getting hugs from my former students in the lobby and seeing the progress that my current students are making in school are reasons enough to come back here week after week.
2. The Dedicated Educators -
I also enjoy volunteering at the Emily K Center because of the remarkable staff who work here.  I have been very fortunate to work with the same teacher at the Emily K Center for the past year and a half, and I have enjoyed getting to know her better as we work together with our students.  I am interested in pursuing a career in education, so it is interesting and helpful to hear about the challenges and successes that she faces on a daily basis as a teacher in the Durham Public Schools.  Her commitment to the students at the Emily K Center is inspiring, particularly given the numerous other demands on her time.
3. The Valuable Programming -
I am particularly impressed with the structure and programming that the Emily K Center offers its students.  The high academic and behavioral standards combined with high levels of support are essential to helping students achieve success. As a student in education and public policy, I am very interested in the best practices in teaching and education, and I believe that the Emily K Center embodies these practices very effectively.  As a result, I know that my work here is part of a more continuous and enduring effort that is helping the students succeed in school and beyond.
4. The Meaningful Involvement in Durham -
As a Duke student, I also feel very strongly that it is important to be involved in the community around the university. It can be easy to become wrapped up in the academic and social life at Duke, but coming to the Emily K Center gives me a chance to interact with the city of Durham in a meaningful way.  My involvement at the Emily K Center has allowed me to learn more about the schools and families in Durham, while helping me feel more connected to the community in which I will live for the better part of four years.
5. The Ability to Make a Difference -
When all of my other reasons for being at the Emily K Center come together, the volunteers truly have a chance to make a difference here. I believe that the Emily K Center fills a very important need in the community, and to be a part of it is an incredibly rewarding experience.  After volunteering at the Emily K Center for close to two years, I genuinely believe that I have made a meaningful difference in the lives of the numerous children I have met here. I cannot think of a more gratifying way to spend my weekday afternoons.

***Aliya Pilchen is a Junior at Duke University and has been volunteering with the Pioneer Scholars program since Fall 2010 ***

Academics. Character. Leadership.

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