Gannon gets ready for summer camps

As the spring semester draws to a close, Gannon University is gearing up for a busy summer. Two on-campus programs will be held this summer, the Summer JAM Program and the Gannon University summer camps.

Gannon has been a partner with the Summer Jobs and More (JAM) Program since it started in 2014.

The county-wide program runs out of the Pennsylvania Career Link of Erie and aims to provide low-income high school juniors and seniors with an opportunity to gain work experience and to develop professional skills.

Eight students were placed in various offices on Gannon’s campus, including the human resources department, the marketing and communications office and the Erie GAINS office.

Erika Ramalho, the director of Erie Gannon Alliances to Improve Neighborhood Sustainability (ERIE -GAINS), works to recruit students to be interested in the program and also to facilitate a pleasant experience for students and campus employers.

Ramalho said that the program is one of the ways that Erie GAINS helps the community.

“I think the program is one of many ways that we connect with the community at the high school level,” Ramalho said. “Having students who may be living in poverty working with us really allows us to hear what their needs are and to learn together.”

The program also aims to give the students a holistic experience by holding workshops to help them develop soft skills such as how to deal with conflict, telephone etiquette, resume writing and interview skills.

Over 100 students were employed at organizations across Erie County. Ramalho said Gannon hopes to recruit 20 more students this summer.

“I just see our entire involvement for supporting students as continually evolving because we have an administration, a faculty and students that really care about the community,” Ramalho said. “When you care about something, you come up with ideas and better ways to do it so I think it’ll continue to evolve.”

Gannon also holds several summer camps each year to allow young people to develop skills they feel passionate about.

These camps are focused on subjects such as writing, acting, sports, criminal investigation and health professions.

One camp is the Young Writers’ Workshop where students ages 9 through 18  can come to develop their writing skills and to produce a variety of written pieces such as poems, plays and short stories.

Adam Cervera, a freshman communication arts major, said he thinks the programs will really benefit Erie students. 

“I think the JAM program is very beneficial to the low-income kids in Erie,” Cervera said. “It teaches them about responsibility, which you always need for any job.”

Cervera also said he likes the idea of the summer camps at Gannon.

“I really like that they have summer camps for different subjects and a lot of ages of children,” Cervera said. “I wish I had the opportunity to go to one of those camps.”

English professor Sally LeVan, Ph. D., is the director of the workshop and has been since its start in 1991. She said she really enjoys doing the camp.

“My favorite thing [about conducting the workshop] is that [the kids] are motivated,” LeVan said. “Going to a writing camp in this day and age is not the most popular thing to do, but there are kids out there that are looking for things like that.

“That’s our market, to find those kids that really want to write and do it in a non-threatening environment but have some focused and one-on-one instruction.”

LeVan said that one of the unique features about the workshop is that they put all of the kids together to learn. Another unique aspect is that the kids are free to write what they want under a specific prompt that is provided.

“I do [the workshop] because I love what I do, “LeVan said.

“I really enjoy the kids – it gives you hope for the future.”



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