Elsie Jones
Photo Courtesy of Elsie Jones

As graduation is quickly approaching, senior Elsie Jones reflects upon how Temple University has guided her closer to discovering her life's passion. Jones, a Human Development and Community Engagement (HDCE) major in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), did not originally know that this was the path she would take. Fast forward four years and she could not be happier with her decision. 

As a New Hope, Pennsylvania native, Jones has always been familiar with Philadelphia and was looking for a college experience in a new area. When the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted her senior year of high school, she decided to stay close to home and come to Temple as a psychology student.  

Jones says helping others is at the center of her professional goals. Initially, as a psychology student, she learned about the human mind and behavior, but she says she wanted something with a less clinical feel to it. While exploring other majors within Temple University, she came across the HDCE program, which she felt resonated with her more.  

"Within the HDCE program, there are so many opportunities and avenues to take, and so many different ways you can help people," said Jones. 

Jones encourages prospective students to consider this program.

"Everyone in this program is authentic in their love for working with people from different backgrounds, and especially those who may be less privileged than many of us are. You just need to go in with an open mind, be ready to learn new skills and be willing to work hard and communicate. You need to put in the effort to learn how to interact with people different from you," she added.

HDCE's emphasis on gaining practical, hands-on experience while serving people in the local community prepared Jones for her chosen fieldwork.

Her internship with Ed Snider Youth Hockey & Education program, which is built into her academic plan, has been life-altering. The organization's mission is "to create opportunities for under-resourced youth of the Greater Philadelphia Region to prosper in life." The program provides free access for youth to learn the sport of hockey, while also encouraging students to achieve academic success by giving them time to play mind-enriching games and work on their schoolwork.

Jones spends nearly five days a week at Simons Recreation Center for her internship. Her role is to engage children in enriching activities, including helping with their homework, reading with them, playing games, logging interactions, and of course, occasionally serving as a scorekeeper during the weekend hockey matches. This one-on-one time with the participating children allows Jones to learn what each child excels and struggles with, which creates opportunities for her to work with them and help them grow academically. 

"I always describe it to people as an organization that promotes education through hockey. The only requirement for a kid to join Snider is that they turn in a report card showing their commitment to their education," mentioned Jones.

She also loves this program because it allows her to consider the impact that sports have on children. Growing up an athlete her entire life, Jones is excited to see how this program that blends academics and athletics impacts the children she works with. Creating friendships and learning life lessons are all part of athletics, and giving these underprivileged children access to an often-times expensive sport gives them a chance to experience all its benefits.

"I've learned so much from my coaches, and I have friends that I've met through sports that I'll be friends with forever. I like seeing these kids get to do that, too. It made me confident that this was the right internship for me," said Jones.

While she does not have a plan set in stone for her post-graduation career, Jones admits that this internship has her seriously considering working within the arena (no pun intended) of children and families. One thing that Jones does know for sure is that she wants to explore careers in the Philadelphia area. Jones aspires to work more with underserved communities and credits the HDCE program with helping her shape her vision.