For Shivani Mehta volunteering isn’t just a weekend activity, it runs through every aspect of her life. Throughout high school and college she gave her time to make an impact in the lives of children. When she started working at Cognizant in New Jersey, Shivani was able to participate in a new volunteer opportunity, teaching an “apprenticeship” class with Citizen Schools.
Citizen Schools is a national non-profit that partners with low-income middle schools to extend the learning day. One afternoon a week Shivani arrives at Eagle Academy for the Young Men of Newark, transforming from a business analyst into a Citizen Teacher, and leading students on a journey to master photography. During this apprenticeship, students gain an understanding of all aspects of photography including the power of a story told by a picture. By filling the afternoon with activities like this, students develop skills that help them succeed in high school, college, and beyond.
Since she began working at Cognizant, Shivani has taught four apprenticeships ranging from robotics to professional networking. She even recruited some of her sorority sisters from Iota Sigma Beta to teach with her. But for Shivani the experience is more than teaching students a new skill, it’s about presenting herself as a mentor and role model. “I feel that it’s my job to be a force of good in their lives regardless of the challenges they may face outside of the classroom.”
In fact, students have felt so comfortable in Shivani’s class they have come to her for advice. Sometimes it’s about furthering some of the skills they have gained in the apprenticeship, other times it’s more serious. “I remind them all the time that they have a bright future ahead of them.”
This month, we are proud to recognize Shivani Mehta as our Citizen Teacher of the Month!
Describe your biggest WOW! moment to date:
“That first semester sticks out in my mind. Watching the students get into coding a robot and wanting to learn more in a hands-on way. You could tell how proud they were to present their projects to their families and the community at the WOW! showcase”
“I’ve learned how to be more patient and how to relate to students. Through personal experience, I’ve seen how intimidating their environments outside of the classroom can be. I’ve learned to try to connect with them beyond the teaching and just try to be a force of good in their lives.”
Have you faced any challenges?
“I haven’t really faced any challenges. My supervisor and Cognizant are incredibly supportive of my decision to teach an apprenticeship.”