Empowering Erie kids

Logan Ford, Staff writer

The Dyslexia Center of Utah lists that “one in five students, or 15-20% of the population, has a language based learning disability. Dyslexia is the most common of the language based learning disabilities.” One Mercyhurst alumna, Paige Huggins, is taking steps to help fight the learning differences in young Erie students.

Huggins, ’17, graduated from Mercyhurst with a degree in Public Health and a minor in Pre-Law. During her senior year, Huggins served as president of the Honors Council and was a residence hall assistant in Baldwin Hall. She graduated with university honors.

After graduation, Huggins intended to pursue law school, but first wanted to take a year off.

Huggins wanted to remain in the Erie area but was fearful that taking a year off to join the workforce would jeopardize her future professional career. As a result, she looked for another option and discovered AmeriCorps.

According to AmeriCorps’ website, “AmeriCorps engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at 21,600 unique sites, including nonprofits, schools, public agencies and community and faith-based groups across the country.” AmeriCorps offered Huggins several placement options to consider. While working at the YMCA as a lifeguard, she realized she wanted to help children with disabilities. At Mission Empower, Huggins helps everyone reach success despite any boundaries that they have.

Since starting in July, Huggins has found working in an office where many people have overcome disabilities to be both humbling and inspirational.

“Many of the people I work with have disabilities of their own, and it’s such a nice sentiment to see them helping others overcome their own challenges,” Huggins said.

Working in a non-elitist environment has become a memorable and cherished experience for Huggins, and it is one that she wants to offer to current Mercyhurst students.

Huggins recently returned to Mercyhurst with a call for help. She is looking for tutors to help dyslexic children learn to read at their grade level.

“I wanted to extend this opportunity to Mercyhurst students because of the connections that could be made with education majors,” Huggins said.

Huggins also highlighted the connection between her current work and the mission of service advocated by the Sisters of Mercy. The organization is looking for a full-year commitment, only spending two hours a week tutoring. Mission Empower is more than willing to offer service hours for tutors’ time.

For more information, please contact Paige Huggins by email at phuggins@missionempower.org or by phone at 814-825-0788, ext. 104.