Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Northwestern University College Visit

Yesterday, on a day off from school (Columbus Day), 23 students from Cabrini Connections visited Northwestern University in Evanston. Myself, EL Da' Sheon, and Karina, all alumni of Northwestern, chaperoned the trip. We were also joined by former volunteer, and forever an advocate for the program, Stephanie Rogers.

This was the largest group we've ever had for a college visit, which I believe is a result of a renewed commitment to the program in 2010-2011 and is a testament to the success of our College Zone. Our vision is that every child who joins a tutor/mentor program in 7th or 8th grade is starting a job and career of his or her choice by age 25, and trips like this fit directly in with that. In order for our youth to fulfill this year's theme, "My Dreams are My Reality!", they need to see themselves on a campus, eating lunch, walking through a dorm, acting like any other student. This is the reality they some day hope to achieve.

Our host for the day at NU was Promote 360: A Cycle of Minority Empowerment and Support, a student organization that aims to enhance the social, academic and professional well-being of minority and under-represented students in the School of Education and Social Policy. They welcomed us at 11am with an icebreaker called "Big Wind Blows," which resulted in a much needed energy boost after a long train ride in the morning. After that, it was time for lunch at Allison Hall.

For the second year in a row, Sodexo food services was kind enough to allow our students free entry into Allison's dining hall, one of the best on campus. We were treated to made-to-order burgers and sandwiches, Asian food, pasta, and more. The space is also complete with a salad bar and, everyone's favorite, a soft serve ice cream machine. I'm sure our students appreciated this upgrade from their regular cafeteria lunch, but the real value lies in its indirect message. The more positive associations with college we can give our students - even if it's eating two bowls of ice cream before noon - the better. Special thanks to Doris Timmen, General Manager of Resident Dining, for arranging our visit. We truly appreciate it.

Lunch is also a great time for our students to hang out with current NU students. Nine members of Promote 360 joined us for lunch, many of whom are friends of mine. As it was last year, it was very humbling to have the support of my friends on this day. Thank you for coming out! And special thanks to Amy, Brittany, Miles, and Rosey for leading tours - our next activity for the day.

Tours left Allison at 12:30pm and ran for about an hour. We walked through The Arch and past The Rock and major academics buildings like University Hall and Harris Hall. Each group also went inside a dorm and the Norris University Center where we saw Video & Filmmakers Club Co-leader Shuling Yong and Stewie and Brian from Family Guy. We ended near Annenberg Hall with a Q&A session outside. (The weather was beautiful!) Again, our tour guides were great in sharing their perspectives, not only about what it's like in college, but what it was like to apply to college. Our students got some great advice!

As we left campus, I began to interview Kanah Bradley for this week's spotlight. She is a senior who is currently working on applications to college. She said, "I wasn't sure about [Northwestern] before today, but I really like it. I could see myself going here." That really summarizes what these trips are about: planting seeds for the future.

Thank you all for your continued support of Cabrini Connections. Without your gracious donations, we would not be able to go on trips like this which expand our students' realm of possibilities. Our budget is really tight right now, but a few dollars from a lot of people can go a long way. Please consider donating here. Thank you!

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