Student Mentors Inmates at Local Correctional Facility

By Caitlin Mack ’12 (T5)
Univ. Communications

As a participant in the 2012-2013 Meliora Leaders program, Kelly Scull ’14 is making a difference as a mentor at the Monroe County Correctional Facility. Scull’s program, “Loss to Success,” gives women a sense of hope and direction in dealing with issues like loss of money, job, and home as a result of being incarcerated.

Scull is one of five Meliora Leaders that participates in community service initiatives through the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) at the University of Rochester. Meliora Leaders create individualized service projects, allowing them to exercise intensive leadership in the Rochester community for an extended period of time. The program benefits organizations and individuals in need while providing a substantial learning experience for the students involved.

“My goal with this program is to empower at least one woman,” says Scull. “We talk about the effects of loss in their lives, but also about goal-setting.”

The New Hope, Pa., native was inspired to create ”Loss to Success” after participating in “Yes Pa,” a program offered through UR’s St. Sebastian’s Society in which college students read a book with inmates.

Scull visits the correctional facility three times a week, usually to meet with female inmates. Topics discussed range from addiction to education, and Scull often sparks discussion with an article. Other days, Scull observes groups that deal with issues like addiction and trauma to get a better understanding of how she can be a good leader and mentor.

For Scull, the most difficult thing about the program has been gaining the trust of the women she mentors.  Most of the women Scull has talked to are usually older than her, between the ages of 25 and 50, and have experienced trouble with drugs and prostitution, among other difficult life experiences. However, Scull found that once she gained their trust, she was able to learn some incredible stories.

Scull says about five women come regularly to her discussions, where she finds that just “having someone they can trust talking to” can make an impact. “You get close with these women and you feel for them,” says Scull. “They’re not bad people; they’ve just made some bad decisions.”

Scull double majors in business and political science and also is interested in psychology and teaching. In addition to being a Meliora Leader, she is president of Sigma Delta Tau, a teaching assistant for economics and political science classes, and plays varsity women’s basketball.

“I really enjoy helping them and it’s my way to give back,” says Scull. “Just getting told ‘thank you’… it’s something I enjoy doing.”

This article is part four of a series that features the Meliora Leaders of 2012-2013. Undergraduates interested in participating in the program should look for information on the RCCL page in the coming months. Information about the program can be found on the RCCL page athttp://rochester.edu/college/rccl/meliora.html.