An email jump-started three Texas Christian University students’ mentorship careers.
After Amaya Castillo, 21, Ariana Sheldahl, 20, and Natalie Ridge, 20, received an email from the university’s Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice seeking mentors for the nonprofit Operation Progress Fort Worth, the three embraced the idea.
“It is a program that creates those relationships between underserved communities and the local police department,” Ridge said. “It’s a great way to be involved with something criminal justice-related without it being just a regular internship.”
Ridge, a junior at TCU, began volunteering with Operation Progress Fort Worth because she thought it would be a great way to interact with the Fort Worth community outside of the university campus.
The nonprofit aims to mentor students from third grade through high school graduation to become “educated, ethical and productive adults,” Executive Director Myeshia Smith said. Operating out of the Rivertree Academy Early Learning Center at 5439 Bonnell Ave., in the Como neighborhood, the organization takes a holistic approach to serving area youth.
For Ridge, the mentorship has been eye-opening.
“I still don’t entirely know what I want to do within the criminal justice field, but this has given me a little direction. And I think that I want to do something related to juvenile justice and working with kids,” Ridge said.
Sheldahl wants to be a licensed clinical social worker, and tutoring in the Como community has helped her see some of the adverse childhood experiences of students in underserved communities.
“It’s definitely given me this perspective, and it’s something that I really want. To try to make that change,” Sheldahl said. “I feel like my role in the community is honestly advocating for programs like this.”
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.