Hopi Costello '10 unique work-study takes her off campus to a nearby school.
"Even if a paper is due or I'm fighting with a friend, I can't think about anything else when I'm there because so many kids need my help. . . I can think about nothing but the moment. It's a breath of fresh air."
Teaching kindergarteners their letters might not be a typical work-study experience for a Macalester student, but for the last three years Hopi Costello has loved doing just that.
Hopi Costello's work-study job has taken her off campus, to the nearby Jean Lyle Children's Center. The Jean Lyle center has historic ties to Mac, being an outgrowth of the Stella Louise Woods Children's Center & Lab School that was located on the Macalester campus from 1948 to 1979.
Costello '10 (Portland, Oregon) began working at Jean Lyle during her sophomore year, after realizing that being in college meant she no longer interacted with children. "I'd been a camp counselor and babysitter, and came from a neighborhood full of kids," she says. "It was weird to have only college students in my life."
For three years, she has worked two days a week as an assistant kindergarten teacher, leading group activities, working with kids one-on-one, and doing the endless cutting and pasting prepr work integral to the job. Along the way she has made close friends with other teachers and many of the families at the school.
For the political science major/legal studies minor, it has been "such an escape" from academic and social problems. "Even if a paper is due or I'm fighting with a friend, I can't think about anything else when I'm here because so many kids need my help," says Costello. "I can think about nothing but the moment. It's a breath of fresh air."
Having such a stable, responsible work experience on her resume proved useful to Costello this spring, when she secured a post-graduation job as a Manhattan legal assistant.
As for the opportunity to do her student employment job off campus, Costello can't say enough good things. "It's an amazing program that allows us to earn money doing the kinds of things that would normally be unpaid internships," she says. "And it builds so many connections between the college and the community."