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Empowering Youth as an Advocate

During her high school and college years, Molly Crum discovered a deep passion for empowering young people while working as a summer camp counselor. This passion has since guided her educational and professional journey. Crum earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from James Madison University and later pursued a master’s program at NC State, graduating in May 2021 from the Department of Agricultural and Human Sciences (AHS) with a Masters in Youth, Family, and Community Sciences (YFCS).

Crum’s experience in the YFCS Program enriched her understanding and equipped her with valuable skills such as professional writing and time management. Furthermore, she formed unexpected connections through her association with NC State. Throughout her tenure in the AHS Department, Crum acknowledges the impactful guidance of two individuals, Maru Gonzalez and Jaimie Alexander. Gonzalez, her professor and advisor, connected with her through their positive youth development approach and introduced her to new concepts such as youth activism and social justice. Alexander, her capstone course professor, cultivated an environment that supported and encouraged every individual’s ideas.

Currently, Crum serves as a Site Coordinator at a Title I elementary school in Alexandria, Virginia, for Communities in Schools (CIS) of NOVA. In this role, her primary responsibilities include case-managing at-risk students and facilitating programs, services, and partnerships to enhance academics, attendance, social-emotional development, and family engagement.

Crum with several of her students during heritage day

Over the past year, Crum has initiated social-emotional learning peer lunch groups, introduced tutoring services, conducted parent tech workshops, and collaborated with an after-school book club and soccer club. Additionally, she ensures students’ basic needs are met through a monthly distribution, contributing to improved school performance.

Crum traces the roots of her career path back to her days as a camp counselor, where her love for creating programs for campers and building relationships with them and their families blossomed. She expresses the rewarding nature of contributing to a child’s development, helping them acquire new skills, and empowering them to achieve their goals.

When reflecting on her inspirations, Crum mentions her mom and the School Support Team from the school where she works. She recalls that her mom has always been an inspiration and she modeled how to balance a career alongside a family. Her School Support Team, consisting of a social worker, psychologist, guidance counselors, and nurse, inspires her with how much they care and advocate for students and their families. 

Highlighting the significance of her work with Communities in Schools, Crum emphasizes that the organization is a leading youth-serving entity, impacting nearly two billion young people and their families across twenty-five states and the District of Columbia. She underscores the importance of providing students with comprehensive support and connecting them with community resources to empower them in their educational journeys.

Amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Crum encountered stories of students and families in her city lacking basic resources and falling behind in school. Motivated to contribute to a solution and foster a more equitable community, Crum aligned her values with those of Communities in Schools, steering her career in that direction. She finds fulfillment in hands-on work with students and their families and aspires to continue making a positive impact in the years ahead.

Looking forward, Crum plans to advance in her position with CIS by cultivating existing relationships with partners and establishing new collaborations. Over the next five years, she envisions taking on a supervisory role, allowing her to mentor and train new site coordinators while continuing her work at the elementary school.