'Tis the Season to Say Thanks for Volunteering!

Tis the season of giving-- a perfect opportunity to thank those who have given so much in support of middle school students across the country. As an organization we rely on the community to join together to help close the gaps between students and successful futures. Thanks to our dedicated and passionate volunteers like those from National Leadership Partner, Cognizant Technology Solutions, students are discovering new dreams, and have the skills and confidence they need to achieve them. What better time to thank them than now?

NJ WOW!Joelle E. Quilla, VP-Legal; General Counsel-Corporate Services at Cognizant, can’t resist giving her time and resources when she sees something that needs to be done in the community. That sentiment led her to Citizen Schools, where we partner closely with Cognizant to help connect students to real-world learning experiences.

Joelle sits on the board of advocates for Citizen Schools New Jersey, ensuring that middle school students in Newark have access to high quality mentors. As an important connector, she is dedicated to bringing people out of their offices and into the classroom to work directly with students on hands-on projects. Thanks to Joelle’s leadership, students have had the chance to build robots, launch rockets, and more with some of the country’s smartest people.

Joelle has also been a mentor, or “Citizen Teacher,” herself, leading two apprenticeship classes, one afternoon a week for ten weeks. It was during one of these classes that she helped transform a young lady’s outlook on life. Joelle recalls, “A very bright, but quiet young lady in one of my apprenticeship classes would always come to our class wearing her sweatshirt hood on her head. I could tell she was somewhat uncomfortable in her own skin. One week I brought in a group of guest speakers who told the students their stories of overcoming incredible challenges in their lives. One of the speakers reached out to the student, encouraging her to portray herself as a strong, intelligent young lady, and that if she can feel that way inside, others will also feel that way about her. That student never came to class wearing her sweatshirt hood up again.”

Joelle’s passion to connect students to the people and resources they deserve, allowed this young lady to have a moment of discovery that could impact the course of her education. Joelle said, “It’s important to give back for many reasons, and when we talk about our children’s education, I really think you cannot underestimate the power of providing all children with opportunities to be successful. The impact is not only on the children themselves, but on the local, national, and global community as well.”

At Citizen Schools, we want to say a sincere thank you to givers like Joelle. You make a real impact on the lives of students and we are grateful to have you as part of the team.