May 27, 2005

USD Grad from National City Begins Program to Boost Girls’ Self-Esteem

Maria Patrice Amon of National City will graduate May 29 from the University of San Diego. But she’s already giving back to the community.

For her senior honors thesis, Amon began an after-school program for girls at the KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy in downtown San Diego. The program for the public charter school serving students from in and around Logan Heights included sports and theatre arts to help boost middle school girls’ self-esteem and fight childhood obesity.

Maria Patrice with the KIPP students

Amon, who will graduate magna cum laude and attend law school next year, worked four days a week with the girls each semester. “It was so much fun. I really enjoyed it,” said Amon who most enjoyed seeing the girls grow in self-confidence.

Two of the students were very shy at the beginning of the program but by its end they were on stage performing. “How did you get my daughter to do that?” asked one proud mother.

Amon is thrilled that the program will live on. Two USD students, Katrina Hearn and Brandye Combs, will continue it next year.

Amon earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy with minor in peace and justice studies. She has been accepted to several law schools but hasn’t decided which one to attend.

Amon graduated from Sweetwater High School in 2001. Her parents are Patrick and Maria Amon.

Although the program was designed to help middle school students to develop a positive body image at an early age, Kelly Wright, who serves as a principal of KIPP Adelante Charter School, saw the program extend its virtues into more than that. Equality between men and women is another main point as well. Students are able to present theatrical plays where women characters end up as heroes: “Sports, nutrution, theater and self-esteem were all implemented in this program” says Wright.

Students at KIPP are taught from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During this time, both educational and extra-curricular activities are reinforced. For more information on enrolling or volunteering for this program one can call (619) 233-3242.

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