Alumni program brings middle school kids to Hill
A spring rainstorm couldn't dampen the spirits of a group of middle school students from New York City who visited the College on Friday, April 9. The students came to the Hill thanks to Engaging Achievement (EA), an organization founded and run by four alumni, which provides urban students with an opportunity to visit and learn about colleges.
EA was created by alumni Ben Herbst '08, Nick Cade '08, Donnie O'Callaghan '06 and Romeo Raugei '06.
"Our goal is to provide middle school students in under-served areas with an experience that inspires them to work hard in high school and reach their goals of attending college," Herbst said. EA's visit to Mayflower Hill introduced the middle schoolers to life at the College. Their day on the Hill included a campus tour, lunch in the dining hall, games run by iPlay and a question and answer session with students, which provided a unique opportunity for the kids of EA and College students to interact with each other.
"I was really impressed by the questions that the students asked. For such a young group of kids, they seemed very interested and engaged," Student Government Association (SGA) Treasurer Audell Scarlett '10, a panelist in the question and answer session, said.
Throughout the morning spent on campus, the group was introduced to what life on Mayflower Hill is like, an experience Herbst said he believes is valuable because it will help these students view college as a reality and also provide them with the knowledge they need to get there. EA chooses to work with middle school students in order to get them thinking about college early.
"We want to create a program that invests students in the idea of college at the right age and then connects these students with opportunities that exist to reach their goal," Herbst said. SGA President Jake Fischer '10, who ate lunch with the kids of EA on Friday and participated in the question and answer session during EA's visit last spring, said that he believes the trip to the Hill seemed to accomplish EA's goal of getting these young students actively thinking about college.
"You can actually witness the students begin to want to come to college," he said. Fischer added that coming to a place as rural as the College gives the urban children an entirely new frame of reference when thinking about what their options are for college.
"The kids are probably familiar with schools like NYU [New York University], but a place like Colby they probably have never heard of, and this is probably the most grass that they've ever seen," he said.
Although none of its members are old enough to apply to college yet, EA hopes to provide support for these students throughout the college application process. The organization also wants to expand the program to other schools in order to reach more students and provide them with opportunities to learn about college.
"I think that programs like Engaging Achievement are really good ways to introduce young urban students to college because it makes them aware that college is not only a necessary step but that it can also be a fun experience," Scarlett said.
For more information about Engaging Achievement, or to make a donation that helps to make college trips affordable for students and their families, visit the EA's website at www.enagingachievement.org.