Erin Bessette got involved with Jumpstart as a Suffolk freshman, and her regard for the early-learning program brought her back to campus as Jumpstart site manager the year after her 2013 graduation.

In the interim, Bessette had joined the AmeriCorps program, working on national disasters. And although she enjoyed that service, there was something missing.

“I realized how much I missed working with kids and the Jumpstart program,” she said.

Closing the achievement gap

Jumpstart is a national organization that recruits and trains college students to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods.

“A child’s zip code should not determine a child’s education,” said Bessette. “We work in low-income communities to help close the achievement gap that occurs with children in those communities and their more affluent peers.”

In her role with Suffolk University’s Jumpstart program, Bessette recruits, trains, and manages 50 student corps members, each of whom has committed to performing 300 hours of yearly service at five Boston-area preschools. During their terms of service, students receive more than 40 hours of professional training in the areas of early childhood, education, and citizenship. Bessette also works with key campus personnel and the organization’s regional and national staff.

Bessette started her Jumpstart “dream job” at Suffolk in September 2014, returning to a place where she feels at home and can share her experience and knowledge with the University’s Jumpstart corps members.

“I was involved with the program from the first semester of my freshman year until I graduated,” said Bessette, who majored in government at Suffolk

Leadership and commitment

“I knew then that working with Jumpstart would not only benefit the children, but would also allow me to gain some leadership skills,” she said. “I took everything I learned with me for the rest of my time at Suffolk. I felt a deep connection to the University and the Jumpstart program.”

Carolina Garcia, director of the Center for Community Engagement at Suffolk, praises Bessette for her commitment to the cause.

“Erin believes in access and opportunity for everyone,” said Garcia. “She is one hundred percent committed to her corps members and to properly educating the young children in our community.”