After completing a successful first year of programming at the Cook Library Center, the Cook Library Scholars has attained two new staff members to kick off to the 2014-15 school year: Javier Cervantes and Sujey Garcia.
Javier, the CLS Program Manager, was born and raised in Grand Rapids. To say that he is familiar with the Grandville Avenue neighborhood is an understatement. He attended Bunchanan Elementary, Burton Middle, and Central High School. His most recent employment was through the Recreation Reaps Rewards / YMCA LOOP program where he served Buchanan Elementary students for five years. In his career, he also worked with students at Cesar E. Chavez Elementary and Southwest Community Campus – both located near or within the Grandville Avenue neighborhood. Javier is pursuing an Associate’s degree in Child Development at Grand Rapids Community College.
When asked about his transition to GAAH, he said, “I am excited because I want to meet and work with this great community. Plus, I know some of the kids already, so I'm excited to be working with them again.”
Javier’s favorite hobby is singing, though he also loves to dance, particularly in the styles of Cumbia, Bachata, and Merengue. His sister Vanessa is employed at the Cook Arts Center. He has a younger brother named Daniel.
Sujey, the CLS Youth Program Coordinator, was born in California, raised in Grand Rapids, and spent the last two years in Mexico. Sujey, who also has proven experience with neighborhood youth, most recently worked with the Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth Steil Center. Her experience with children was at the learning center where she helped with homework. Sujey also worked as an English tutor out of her home in Mexico where she prepared children for their move to the United States. She has her Associates in Business Administration from Grand Rapids Community College.
Sujey said, “I love working with children. I am most excited about getting to know them and working with their future development. I want to help get them to college. I know how hard it is coming from a low-income family and on top of that, a different ethnicity. For them, going to college is hard. I want to give them the push that they need to succeed.”
Sujey enjoys listening to music, reading, and watching soap operas from around the world, particularly South Korea. She said, “I like them because they aren’t like the ones in the US. The ending is not the typical happily-ever-after ending.” She also tries to appreciate the small things in life. She said, “I used to live in Mexico where it was very hard, and everything was work, work, work. Now, I appreciate the small things, like the green grass and stopping to smell the flowers.” She has two sisters and a brother, and her favorite book is “The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday Life in the Hermit Kingdom.”