Texas A&M International University students are making a difference in the lives of probationers by serving as tutors at the Webb County Day Reporting Center (DRC), a rehabilitative facility that functions as an alternative to incarceration.
TAMIU students enrolled in select Criminal Justice and Sociology courses, including Urban Sociology (SOCI 3316), US-Mexico Border Subcultures (SOCI 3307) and Race and Ethnic Relations (SOCI 4317) may volunteer to spend 36 hours tutoring first-time, non-violent offenders at the DRC's in-house GED program.
Dr. Judith Warner, Associate Professor of Sociology, has incorporated the volunteer tutoring into several of the courses she teaches. The volunteer work provides students with experience dealing with people of different social and economic backgrounds, she explained.
Warner added that while students are sometimes initially apprehensive about working with probationers, all of her students have been uniformly positive about their experiences at the DRC.
DRC Director Ricardo Flores said the volunteer tutoring has also been extremely positive for DRC participants. He believes the TAMIU volunteers are positive role models that the probationers can identify with.
Flores is a graduate of Texas A&M International University and is currently working on a Masters degree from TAMIU.
"Our participants are not bad people. Somewhere along the line they just fell in the cracks. Our program tries to bring them back into society and the committment of our volunteers shows them that the community cares," he said.
The strictly supervised probationers who participate in the DRC program must perform 250 hours of community service, acquire a GED diploma, and obtain gainful employment before being allowed to exit the program.
"The DRC program is intense but our participants can look to the volunteer tutors for help and encouragement. These University students send a strong message that anything is possible through hard work and committment," he added.
For more information on the Volunteerng Tutoring Project at the DRC, please call Ricardo Flores at the Webb County Day Reporting Center, 718-8667.
For more information on Sociology courses at the University, contact the TAMIU Department of Psychology/Sociology at 326-2475 or visit offices in Sue and Radclife Killam Library-Administration Building Room 426.
TAMIU office hours are 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.
This story by Oralia Roach.
15 November 1995