Editor’s note: The following Q&A is part of Xpress‘ annual Kids Issues.
Jocelin Rosas, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County community school coordinator at Erwin Middle School, discusses student resiliency, social media and the importance of mentorships.
What surprises you about the kids you work with?
I think what surprises me most about our kids is how resilient they are and their willingness and ability to adapt. We have one of the most diverse student populations in our district and serve many different ethnicities and cultures. Their ability to adapt, learn a new language and even be immersed in a new environment is profoundly inspiring.
What do you see as some of the biggest challenges middle schoolers face today?
One of the biggest challenges is the way social media affects their daily lives. Unfortunately, with most students having smartphones and TikTok, everything is posted online right away whether it be fights, rumors and so on. It’s worrisome what effects this may have on their self-esteem in their developmental stages.
What is one goal you hope to achieve through your work this year?
One goal I have this year is to continue to connect our students to mentors and leaders in our community that look like and relate to them. It’s really important that our kids see themselves in adults that are doing positive and successful things in our community that can inspire them to achieve whatever goals they have for themselves.