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Volunteer Spotlight: Max Han

As a ninth grader at Scarsdale High School, Max was looking for an opportunity to volunteer in his community. Many of his peers were working as tutors at a school in Mount Vernon, but Max wanted something more; he was looking for an opportunity to mentor students and also be part of their journey from high school to college.

His parents had heard of Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE), an organization working with students at across the eight Yonkers Public High Schools. YPIE partners with students to ensure that they are ready for, enroll in, and complete college. Yonkers was not far from his home, but different in many ways. Unlike Scarsdale High, more than 90% of the students in the Yonkers public high schools are low-income.

Max visited YPIE one Saturday morning to help students prepare for the math Regents exams. He quickly appreciated the small ratio of tutors to students and the very positive atmosphere.

“At YPIE, everyone is excited to be there. It’s organized and kids work hard, but it’s also a fun place to be. Students were more motivated because of all the small things YPIE does to make it more of a fun learning experience -- more than just tutoring.”

After that first Saturday, Max visited YPIE almost every Saturday during his four years of high school. He primarily tutored students in Algebra and Geometry, but also helped with Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, Biology, Physics, and History. One of his favorite stories involved a girl who previously failed the math Regents. After working with her for about 4 weeks, she passed. Max recalls how great it felt knowing that she needed this to graduate from high school.

In addition to being a tutor, Max recommended that YPIE be a beneficiary of an event being held at his high school. Max shared his personal experiences with YPIE, the importance of supporting our local community, and his excitement about a new after-school learning space that YPIE was building. As a result, YPIE was selected and received a $5,000 grant from his school.

Max is currently a freshman at New York University, studying computer science and economics. Reflecting on his experience at YPIE, he shares, “There is a huge gap between students who have the resources to prepare for college and those who don’t. Leveling that gap is necessary. If I was able to help students go to college and raise their scores on standardized tests, it was really worth it.”

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