Mercer Service Scholars Continue SAT Prep Workshops at Southwest High School


MACON – For the second consecutive year, a team of Mercer Service Scholars conducted SAT prep workshops each Saturday during the month of September at Southwest High School in Macon.

Last fall, for their senior project for the Service Scholars program, Mercer students Lyndssey Autry and Taylor Feeney organized the workshops with the help of Southwest Principal Dr. Tanzy Kilcrease.

“The Mercer students coached the high school students in the math, reading comprehension and writing sections of the exam and encouraged them to continue studying for the exam after the workshops were over,” said Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, senior vice provost for service-learning at Mercer.

“Like many Title I schools, Southwest has had high poverty rates, perennially low SAT scores and low graduation rates. The response from the high school students was so positive that three Mercer Service Scholars teamed up to offer the workshop series again this year.”

Around 30 Southwest students enrolled for this year's workshops, led by Emily Gibbs, Ashleigh Hightower and Rampriya Vaithi.

“My freshman year at Mercer I had the opportunity to tutor at a local elementary school each week with the Mercer Service Scholars. Through that experience, I learned about Macon's public schools and how much help and encouragement those students needed,” said Gibbs. “I wanted to do more to help out, so I went on to tutor during my sophomore year, as well. Last year, when I heard about the SAT prep workshops, I thought it was a wonderful idea, so I volunteered to help. It was great to see students participate who genuinely wanted to go to college and work for their future – they just needed some help to get there. I decided it would be a great idea to take the program over for my own senior project so I could continue helping these students.”

“During my four years as a Service Scholar, I have had the opportunity to participate in several community service projects. When it was my turn to begin thinking about what I wanted to do for the community, I knew working to continue the SAT prep workshops was what I was supposed to be doing,” said Hightower. “The workshops were a way I could give back to the school system I attended until eighth grade, work in a community many of my childhood friends were from, and see the changes it has had over time. The new love for the Macon community that I have found here at Mercer has helped me see my hometown through a different point of view and develop a deeper appreciation for my Macon roots.”

“As a Spanish major and pre-med student, the SAT prep workshops allowed me to tie in the communications skills my Spanish major emphasizes with my love for service, which is the reason why I applied to medical school,” said Vaithi. “It felt great to work with the high school students because they were eager and excited to be there. Even more importantly, it felt wonderful to see how Mercer students came together to volunteer at our events. We had students and professors across all schools and majors come out every weekend and were able to maintain a one-to-one ratio of students to tutors. I have never been so glad that I chose Mercer over my other undergraduate options than when complete strangers across campus heard of our project and asked to volunteer. The Mercer community is unique because of the support provided among its members and the shared passions that tie everyone together. I couldn't be prouder to be a part of it.”

The Mercer Service Scholars program was founded in 2000 upon the belief that gifted, motivated college students bring vision, energy, intellect and hope to communities, locally and globally, and that students are transformed by working in a program whose focus on the common good gives them a sense of purpose and meaning. Each year, a few select entering students are invited to become Service Scholars due to their commitment to service and leadership, as well as outstanding academic performance. Service Scholars are leaders on campus and are developed to become leaders in their careers and lifelong contributors to their communities.

While at Mercer, Service Scholars take selected classes together, form bonds with one another and learn how to become change agents in the world. In addition to participating in unique service-learning and leadership coursework, Service Scholars are singled out for special attention and programs with leadership professionals and community leaders. The University also provides the funds to send Service Scholars who have met eligibility requirements on a Mercer On Mission service-learning program abroad.

For more information on Mercer Service Scholars, click here.

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​