PUEBLO, Colo. (December 14, 2016) – The Colorado State University-Pueblo softball team continues to do its part in serving the Pueblo community, led by freshman Valeria Mendoza (Fountain, Colo.) who spends two hours of her time each week tutoring adults who are seeking to obtain their GED. Members of the Pack also read one time a week to elementary-aged students.
According to the Literacy Project Foundation, 44 million American adults cannot read well enough to read a simple story to a child and 21 million cannot read at all.
Those blaring statistics hit close to home for Pack Head Coach Christie Koschke. "It really makes me think of my nieces because I read to them all the time."
Koschke was contacted in the fall by Jackie Swanson, Pueblo City-County Library District's Adult Literacy Coordinator and was asked to participate in the Adult Literacy Photo Campaign.
"When she asked me I was real excited to do it." Koschke said. "I went in and read to my niece and they spread the word with pictures displayed across Pueblo raising the awareness of reading and how important it is to a child."
As a team the ThunderWolves are in their third straight year of going out and reading to students at North Mesa Elementary School.
"A couple of years ago my niece was asking if the girls could come and read to them at the school, so I set it up with her teacher and now we are in our third year of reading in the classrooms."
Mendoza took stride when given the opportunity from both Koschke and Swanson.
"I have always wanted to help and it all started off with my little brother. I always wanted to teach him how to read and write since he was younger," said Mendoza.
While a student at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, Mendoza volunteered in the library of her former elementary school as an aide and was later hired as a literacy aide where she helped in the classrooms of kindergartners and third graders.
Stepping foot onto campus in August, Mendoza knew she would continue to volunteer in any way possible.
"Coach said they were looking for tutors through the library and I immediately went down there and filled out an application. I was assigned an adult learner and we set up a place and time to meet."
Mendoza meets once a week for two hours and tutors in the subjects of math, reading, writing and grammar.
"I go over a little bit of everything every session, so she can prepare for the GED Test."
The kind of personal fulfillment Mendoza has gained is rewarding.
"Seeing the adult learners' reaction and how excited she gets once she figures out a problem or understands where she might have messed up is real exciting for me."
Being a college student-athlete requires time management skills, along with learning to balance life, both on and off the field.
"We try and teach our players life skills they can take with them beyond their time at CSU-Pueblo." Koschke said. "Our coaches like to see how they progress in becoming successful business women."
"It's not anything new for me because I grew up active in sports and volunteered a lot," Mendoza said.
"I really enjoy giving my time to my student because I know that she needs it and she really appreciates it."
For Koschke, a Pueblo-native, she loves being able to give back to the community.
"Pueblo is my home. I love it and would do anything for the people here."
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.