Erin O’Donovan, Loras College

Erin O'DonovanErin O’Donovan, a senior and Education major at Loras College, has served for two years as a crew leader for Future Talk, a program focused on College Access that was created and is coordinated by multiple partners in Dubuque, Iowa. The program curriculum combines work experience, conservation education, and engagement with community and it is designed for teens facing significant challenges in their personal lives and with literacy. Future Talk strives to create short and long-term solutions to poverty through education. 
In her role as crew leader, Erin has gone far beyond expectations of program coordinators. She co-presented with three program participants at a state-wide conference in Dubuque for parks and recreation professionals, at the local NAACP annual banquet and they co-facilitated a workshop on “Race and the Classroom” for her fellow pre-service teachers at Loras College. According to Future Talk program coordinator, “Erin has made education exciting for a group of teens and she has helped build a creative space in which they can develop and share their talents with the public.” 
-James Collins, President

As I stepped into the Multicultural Family Center for my first day of Future Talk, one piece of teaching advice resonated in my mind; “No one rises to low expectations.” From day one, the expectations were set high for each Future Talk teenager. They were held accountable for their professionalism and giving their best efforts when they were in my classroom. Meeting high standards is difficult; I understood that, yet, it led the teenagers to discover their true potential. Thirteen young leaders graduated from our program with the skills and knowledge for a bright future. Trusting in our youth and giving them the opportunities to succeed is what empowers them to take on a positive role in our community. Young leaders need to be supported. I have found that my work after Future Talk is just as important, if not more so, than the program itself. We have stood by their side, as our teenagers speak at city wide conferences and banquets to share their experience and lessons taken from Future Talk. These experiences are what will shape my future classroom to be one of empowerment and opportunity for our youth, the leaders of our future.
-Erin O’Donovan