FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – On March 21, 2014 the YMCA of Broward County took 80 students who chose to focus on their futures during Spring Break on a weeklong college tour designed to expose them to post-secondary education opportunities.
This year’s Third Annual YMCA College Tour took twice as many kids, eighth through 12th grade as previous years, thanks to the generous support of City National Bank. Students were able to visit eight colleges in three states, including the University of Florida, Florida State University and Florida A&M University in Florida; Tuskegee University in Alabama; and Louisiana State University, Southern University, Dillard University and Xavier University in Louisiana.
For students like Isaac Petty, a 10th grader, it’s his first time, and it’s an eye-opening experience:
“I really enjoyed the trip and after seeing eight different colleges, it made me wake up even more and now GRIND harder! I greatly appreciate everyone for giving me an opportunity to realize that you don’t have to live the life you’re used to, you can become who you want to. All you have to do is work hard and focus on the right things.”
For others like Angelique Prudent, a 10th grader on her third tour, it’s not just about seeing school options, it’s about getting to experience new people and new things.
“Would I ever take another opportunity like this again?” Angelique asks herself. “The answer is YES! I’m ready to continue this journey because it’s my future and it begins now. I tried new things that I probably wouldn’t do alone. It was a learning experience and I’m glad I had the chance to do it with my YMCA family.”
Lauderhill Community YMCA Executive Director Jocelyn Boyd shares that the best part of keeping teens connected and going on the college tour multiple years is the level of growth and leadership you see develop in them.
“This was the first year Angelique had exhibited a sense of leadership,” Boyd says. “She took charge of her table at dinner and suggested an ice breaker to get to know one another. That’s something I can tell you has never happened with her before.”
In addition to acquainting themselves with institutions of higher learning, students get to meet and learn first-hand from tour guides and key personnel about the colleges they visit. They also get to experience a few cultural and recreational events that include site-seeing and specially-planned social activities that are critical to their overall successful transition into adulthood because they’re able to practice things like etiquette and socialization.
The college tour doesn’t just impact the lives of the students, it also makes a big difference for the volunteers like Arnise Lewis, a teacher at Lauderhill 6-12 School, who give a week of their time to act as chaperones. “As a first generation college graduate,” says Lewis, “I often think would my choice of school have been different if I was able to have the same opportunities as the students who attended the tour. I would have to say yes. On the tour I witnessed the students being authentically engaged and soaking up the information given to them. The tour impacted my life as well as the student’s lives.”
To sum it up, YMCA of Broward County CEO & President Sheryl Woods says, “Every child deserves a chance to reach their highest potential. By exposing them to different college campuses through the Y College Tour, we help teens see firsthand the higher education options available to them. We’re also able to encourage improved academic performance and the pursuit of high educational and career goals.”
You can see photos and read more about the YMCA Spring College tour by reading the blog www.lauderhillymcatour.wordpress.com or liking Lauderhill Community YMCA Family Center on Facebook.com.