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Volunteer Spotlight: Julia McGuire

Volunteer tutor Julia McGuire joined Literacy NRV in the summer of 2023 and jumped right in to the LNRV community, helping with our 2023 Tri-Wizard Tri-Mile Potter in the Park race. Since then, she's helped support several classes, working in small groups and one-to-one with learners to help them navigate assignments and practice their new skills.

We asked Julia a few questions to get to know her better and here's what she had to say:

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Julia McGuire, and I moved to Blacksburg, VA from TN a few years ago to attend medical school. Outside of school, I really enjoy running and hiking, really anything where I can spend time outside. I also have a dog named Earlene who comes with me on walks!

What inspired you to volunteer for Literacy NRV?

I started volunteering with Literacy NRV just because I was looking for a place to connect with the community. I really believe in investing in people wherever you are for however long because I think that's how we build each other up and create positive change in the world. I heard about Literacy NRV from someone at school, and I thought it was such a cool program that provided something so foundational to our everyday lives like reading and writing (honestly something that I have taken for granted). It has probably been about a year and a half since I started volunteering, and I have loved learning with the students in all the classes that I have participated in.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering?

This is a great place to start getting engaged with other people, and it truly only requires your own willingness to participate! When I started, I was nervous about taking on a volunteering role where I was an "English teacher" and I felt a little overwhelmed by the idea since I have never thought of myself as being good at English or teaching. I quickly realized that there was nothing to worry about; Literacy NRV provides you with all the resources you need to be able to help students in the classes and to feel good about the work you're doing. Not only are you able to invest in other people, but it is so inspiring to see how much work the students put into learning. You also end up learning so much about the students, building relationships with them and seeing them succeed. It's an amazing experience and so much fun!

What successes have you seen in your students while tutoring with LNRV?

I think every week during every class you see improvement in students in some small way. In the health literacy class, students would learn something new every class about the medical language, the health care system in our country, and how to navigate it, which is no small feat. In the more traditional English classes I worked with, it was evident after the end of a just a few hours how the students had improved and what they had taken away. The most important success that I have seen is that students grow in their confidence by the end of a class, and this success comes to every single student who simply shows up and does the work. They know they have worked hard and learned something, and it shows in the way they carry themselves and engage with the material. It's amazing!

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