The Xavier E-News sat down with Patrick Mahon ’04 to discuss his role as Higher Achievement Program (HAP) director, and what prospective students can look forward to this summer.
Xavier E-News: Why did you choose to become Xavier’s HAP director?
Patrick Mahon ’04: My involvement with HAP dates back to well before I was appointed as director by Jack Raslowsky. I attended HAP as a student in the summer of 1999, before volunteering as a tutor for three summers as a high school student at Xavier. After working for a few summers in the office, I began teaching at HAP and did so for many summers. It was this experience as a HAP teacher that sparked my interest in education and teaching as a career path. I became HAP director in 2014 with the hope of utilizing my varied experiences within the program to continue the many years of excellence Xavier HAP has always been known for.
E-News: What does your role consist of?
Mahon: The HAP director role is a bit of a “jack of all trades” type of position. The role consists partly of recruiting and student selection, hiring our teachers and training our tutors, as well as planning the day-to-day activities. I would say the most important job of the HAP director is to ensure that the program is mission-centered and grounded in Ignatian principles.
E-News: In what ways do you believe this program benefits prospective students and prepares them for life on 16th Street?
Mahon: By attending HAP, rising 8th graders get an authentic look and feel in terms of who Xavier is and what their experience will be like, should they come here for high school. Prospective students get the opportunity to come to Xavier every single day for 5 weeks in the summer. The culture of the school is palpable on a daily basis and students are expected to live and act as true Sons of Xavier for the duration of the program. Additionally, students take classes in reading, writing, math, coding, art, and science, in which they review old concepts and encounter some new ones as well! The classroom experience, coupled with athletics and extracurricular classes, provides a robust curriculum for prospective students each summer.
E-News: What are your favorite aspects of the program?
Mahon: Easily, my favorite aspects are the growth and camaraderie that I get to bear witness to over the five weeks. Some students enter HAP as extremely shy and unsure of their place in the program. By the end of HAP, many of those students are class leaders, athletic MVPs, and the like. Similarly, the camaraderie that is on display daily, but particularly during HAP Games (athletic competitions against St. Peter’s Prep) is so energizing and refreshing, as students get to officially represent Xavier in an athletic environment for the first time.
E-News: Do you have a favorite HAP story?
Mahon: There are so many that come to mind and too many to fully recount. As HAP director, I have had the opportunity to bring a number of my former students back as teachers for the summer. Watching these young men grow and develop into fine educators and upstanding young men has been an extremely rewarding experience for me. Beyond that, I can recall one particular instance early on in the program one year when a student was in tears because he was not placed into the same elective class as his best friend. This student thought that the class he was placed into would be too difficult for him and that he didn't have much interest in the topic. I assured him that it would be fine and encouraged him to stick with it. At our graduation ceremony at the end of the program that year, this young man was awarded the most outstanding student in that particular class. I’ll never forget the look of gratitude on his face as he came up to receive his award that night.
E-News: What is it like to witness such growth in students from different walks of life?
Mahon: To me, this is the essence of HAP. Many of our students come from smaller, neighborhood schools and this is their first opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the best and brightest in the New York City area. Similarly, HAP is a great opportunity for students to meet guys from other cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicities. In this way, HAP serves as a window into a more plural world that students will eventually be a part of.
To learn more about HAP and to apply, click here.