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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Women’s basketball team mentors students from Travis Heights for another year

Courtesy of Mikah Chapman
St. Edward’s and Travis Heights students gather in the Recreation and Athletics Center.

The St. Edward’s women’s basketball team continues an in-person mentorship program for the second year in a row with local elementary school, Travis Heights. Their responsibilities include weekly meetings with the student, helping with homework and playing basketball with them. At the end of the season, the students attend a game to cheer on their mentors. 

Basketball player Jayda Ruffus-Milner, second year graduate student for the team, recounted her experiences last year with the mentorship program. 

“With my kid, it was really cool just to have that power where, you know, make sure he finishes whatever assignment he needs to do in class,” she said. “And then he gets to just hang out with me, so I could take him to the library or even to the court or something like that. And yeah, just talk to him. And I think that was cool.” 

The players didn’t all have teaching experience before this opportunity; the mentorship program has helped them grow.

“I love being able to get to see kids and you really do realize, because we do this for pretty much the entire year, but you get to build a bond with someone you didn’t even know existed,” Ruffus-Milner said. “And you realize you’re making such a huge impact in their life.”

Mikah Chapman, a senior double-majoring in biology and business administration, has been on the team for two years. She explained that the team has various outreach efforts with the elementary school. 

“Some of us are either with whole classrooms and we’re just in there reading to them, or helping the teacher grade papers just whatever we can do to make their lives easier,” Chapman said. “Or some of us are with actual individual students, just helping them out with their homework, and talking to them.”

Ronnie Cantu, a senior majoring in kinesiology, had a one-on-one mentorship with a 5th grader from Travis Heights. 

“I loved being able to see my mentee grow over the course of a couple weeks. Honestly, she really grew right in front of my eyes and opened up to me like you’d never imagine,” Cantu said.

Cantu emphasized what the program means for the team. Time management as a college athlete can be overwhelming.

“Being a student athlete, we forget about the outside world and we get a little too, like, invested into the sport, and the academics, and almost not finding time within the day to feel like we can give back to others,” Cantu said. “So this mentorship program really did that for us.”

Every player contacted by Hilltop Views had the same highlight from the mentorship program: the end-of-year game where the elementary school students make up the crowd. Cantu explained that playing for them was the “best crowd” she had ever played for. 

“I’ve never played in a gym where I had an audience of just like, it’s just filled with little kids,” Ruffus-Milner said. “They wanted autographs and everything like that. And pictures afterwards. It was just so fun. It was so pure and sweet.” 

Although the program is just starting up this year, the players hope to have the same end-of-season game again.

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About the Contributor
Hailey Womack
Hailey Womack, News Editor
Hailey Womack is a junior English major with a minor in Journalism & Digital Media. This is her third semester with Hilltop Views and her first year as News Editor. She's very passionate about the Austin area, as she has been a native all of her life. When not reading romantic period books, she enjoys playing basketball.

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  • K

    KristinaSep 20, 2023 at 7:07 pm

    How amazing!