University student organizes a K-12 tutoring and mentorship program

This fall, a program will officially launch to support K-12 students through unexpected life complications, by providing tutors and mentors.

A variety of kids with different backgrounds and health concerns, all striving to continue their education by using the upcoming program, RISE. (Jaci Zemenchik)

A variety of kids with different backgrounds and health concerns, all striving to continue their education by using the upcoming program, RISE. (Jaci Zemenchik)

by Katelyn Vue

A program started by a University of Minnesota student will provide online academic support for K-12 students who experience unexpected life complications such as illnesses, injuries and COVID-19. 

The Raising Intellectual Student Education Program will officially be launched this upcoming fall. Emily Palmer, a second-year chemistry student, came up with the idea for the RISE program when she had back surgery for scoliosis in eighth grade. She spent a couple months in recovery and teachers sent her assignments and lessons, expecting her to learn on her own. In college, she realized how difficult it was to balance her recovery and academics. 

“That was definitely the reason that I thought of this program…” said Palmer, RISE program director. “If I could’ve had a tutor, I definitely would’ve done better. I could’ve had somebody there helping me.” 

In addition, Palmer said she noticed in herself, and other students, the passion to give back to the community now instead of waiting until after college. Other volunteers also helped create the website, link helpful online videos, and mentor and tutor students. 

The RISE Program provides online resources and one-on-one support from volunteer tutors. Tutors from all over the Midwest can help students with subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, economics, history, English, math and art. 

“[Students] should be able to be close to their family at the Children’s Hospital… but also get the education that they deserve as well,” said RISE tutor Erin Hoy, a junior studying speech language science and French. She tutors students on subjects such as reading, English and French. 

Students will gain access to the RISE program’s website in mid-August and can read the tutor biographies to choose the best fit. Palmer then connects the tutor and student to begin their meetings online or in-person. 

As of early June, 28 tutors have volunteered for the program.

“I’m really glad that this program is upcoming so soon and especially in a time like this,” said Nisha Panigrahy, RISE website developer and incoming University freshman. “This program is going to be able to help all these students affected by COVID-19 and different diseases.” 

The RISE program is focused on helping students who are experiencing health issues but also for students who have family members in the hospital. Palmer and the tutors hope to expand the program nationwide and offer events centered on specific subjects.

“[Volunteers] have been doing a lot of hard work, and we’ve been able to move forward, even with this pandemic,” Palmer said. “It’s definitely not just me. There is a very large amount of volunteers that are helping get this program running, so we’re hoping that it all works out for next fall.”