Central Lakes College students can be quite busy with studies, jobs and family matters, but Cassie Hill isn't too busy to be a friend.
Hill, 19, of Garrison is a Kinship Partner. That means she serves as a companion, perhaps a role model, to a young person. Youths in the Kinship Partners program may lack the potentially positive influence of a caring and considerate adult.
Not many adult partners in the program are teens, and Hill is only the second CLC student to become a partner. She made the commitment last October in response to a request from Britany Barrett, 14, of Brainerd.
Hill is an honor student taking 18 credits at CLC this spring. She works about 30 hours a week as a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Mille Lacs Health Systems long-term care facility in Onamia.
She attended CLC last year as a Post-Secondary Enrollment Option student while still enrolled at Onamia High School. She is a spring Associate in Arts degree graduate and next year plans to begin training at CLC to become a Licensed Practical Nurse.
Hill has made time for her new friend, taking Britany to dinner, the movie theater and the mall. "Sometimes we just walk and talk," Hill said.
The Kinship commitment is for at least one year. It's an arrangement that also has suited Nick Otterson, also a spring graduate at CLC.
Otterson, a Champlin Park High School graduate from Maple Grove, became the college's first volunteer in the Kinship Partners program after meeting his young friend, Jersey Jarvela. They met at last spring's Leadership class pool and pizza party.
"I am so happy to see my son getting this opportunity that he wouldn't otherwise have had," said Jersey's mom, Darla.
The party was created as a community-service project to fit the focus of CLC's one-credit leadership course, designed to prepare students for a lifetime of engaged, responsible, and active community involvement. The students earned grant funding to give unmatched Kinship Kids a four-hour water park experience.
The leadership class at CLC has been taught by Jean Mershon, with the help of a CLC Foundation contribution by the Holden family.
This spring's leadership class includes Donovan Bates, White Bear Lake; Steve Berndgen, Joshua (JD) Berns, Tom Boyer, Ashley Mackedanz, Erin Shockley, Samantha Steinfeldt, all of Brainerd; Michelle Kangas and Tiffany Mattson, Baxter; Derek Harris, Fergus Falls; Hill, Garrison; Garrett Jarvela, Emily; Beau Pilgrim, Staples; and Scott Saehr, Pierz.
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