Dwight Weingarten: Taking a Direct Role

Dwight Weingarten widget

OCE Community Profile Series
By Daniela Sainz | November 6, 2013

Dwight Weingarten is a senior who plans to take the lessons that he learned from his volunteer opportunities at the college and apply them directly to his career aspirations for the future. After spending some time understanding the motivations behind his fealty to Project Phoenix, a tutoring and mentoring program, it is easy to see how the College is a community that fosters a passion for service beyond formal educational settings. Dwight’s experience volunteering for Project Phoenix developed and strengthened his desire to teach after graduation. Here, we explore how Dwight’s passion for teaching was cultivated and how he plans to broaden his horizons in the future.

Office of Community Engagement: How are you involved in community engagement at William & Mary?

Dwight Weingarten: I am involved with Project Phoenix, a tutoring and mentoring program involving three middle schools within the Williamsburg area. I am a tutor coordinator, so my main responsibility is sponsoring the tutoring. Project Phoenix has been around since 1992, so the program has been in place for about 20 years. We tutor in every subject, including: foreign languages, science, math, etc.

OCE: How has this work contributed to community needs?

DW: So many kids need that extra push to succeed; it’s a unique opportunity to get support from someone outside of their school. Having high-achieving students who attend William & Mary mentoring them is a fantastic opportunity; the college students can relate to their pupils through similar past experiences.

OCE: What does active citizenship mean for you?

DW: To me, active citizenship means that you have to take a direct role in what you commit yourself to. You are not “doing what you are supposed to,” you have to really become personally invested in improving the community. Active citizenship is the realization that I have lived a life of good fortune, and that I have an obligation to help out in the community in whatever way I can.

OCE: How has your experience working in the community affected your educational career at William & Mary?

DW: I am a History and Education major, and working with Project Phoenix has strengthened my desire to teach. Seeing how strong the program is has made me aware of the greater need for these kinds of programs elsewhere. Every middle school student should have one. Unfortunately, we can only accept about 20 students into the program from each of these schools. The need for the programs is so much greater.

OCE: How do you plan to use what you’ve learned as an engaged citizen beyond William & Mary?

DW: I plan to become certified to teach! I have really enjoyed the mentoring aspect of my responsibility, and the amazing support that we give the students outside the classroom consolidates the 360 degree aspect of working with the students.

OCE: What is the most memorable or striking moment you experienced during your engagement work?

DW: There have been a lot of memorable experiences, but what comes to mind is one of the Saturday programs where the kids got to meet some of the players on William & Mary’s football team. The joy on the kids’ faces was incredible, it was almost as if they were meeting someone in the NFL. Being able to play on the field and listen to these players tell their stories was fantastic, and everyone appreciated it. It was one of the most successful day activities we had ever organized.

 

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About Melody Porter

Hello blogosphere! While I am a relative newcomer to you, I am a long-time fan of human connection. I used to say that my major in college (above my actual political science & religion double major) was in friendships. Conversations over long meals or late nights on dorm hallway floors have been transformative in my life, and it only makes sense to me to dip my toe into new ways of opening up conversation here. Some details about my life and role at W&M: I have worked at William and Mary since August 2008, and am Associate Director in the Office of Community Engagement. I spend my time fostering student leadership in the broad areas of alternative breaks and local anti-poverty initiatives. Doing so lets me fulfill what I understand my calling to be about: working for social justice in the world, and equipping others to do so with skill, sensitivity and great love. And my pre-W&M life... I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Religion from Emory University in 1995. After graduating, I decided to get further into the world of community development and service. I served as a long-term volunteer for three years, beginning a job development program in Philadelphia and working with preschool children in Johannesburg, South Africa. I came back to Emory to earn a Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology in 2001, with a focus in religious education. I spent a frenetic and exciting year working four jobs - from TA'ing a preaching class with Tom Long, to catering barbecue, to managing a nonprofit family literacy program with immigrant and refugee families. I went on from there to be Associate Minister at First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia, working in areas of social justice and community development, and directing an after school program that served more than 100 high school students. Finally, it was one more stop at Emory - where I served for three years as director of Volunteer Emory, a student-led department for community service. Through all of my professional and volunteer experiences, and life in general, I have seen how connected and interdependent people and communities are everywhere I believe in the power of mutual service to transform lives and create social change. I also love cheese fries.