Inner-city students get early exposure to college life

Inner-city students get early exposure to college life

With an itinerary full of activities ranging from watching a chemistry demonstration to viewing the campus apartments, about 30 Kansas City, Kan., fifth-graders caught a glimpse of college life at Baker University.

As part of the “Reachback” project partnership Baker has with Caruthers Elementary School in Kansas City, Assistant Professor of Education Machele Timberlake coordinated the event on Tuesday.

Students from Baker have worked on several occasions at the elementary school through the Diversity in Education interterm class for education majors. However, Tuesday was the fifth-graders’ turn to travel to receive tours of Baker and eat lunch with college students.

“What I want them to get out of it is they have options,” Timberlake said. “If you keep your grades up and do your best, you’ll have choices.”

Timberlake said many of the fifth-grade students’ reactions were positive.

“They go into the apartments and get excited thinking ‘I’ll have my own kitchen someday; I’ll have my own room,” Timberlake said. “They get to see another possibility of things they want out of life.”

Multicultural Affairs Coordinator Ron Holden said the event was arranged for education students and Mungano members to interact and have a positive influence on the visiting students.

“When we spoke with the students, the thing we did is say ‘College is a way to achieve your dreams,'” Holden said. “‘College can be a tool to achieve those dreams and not let anyone take these dreams away from you.’

“(The event) is a good schmurgeng program that gets students who may never have been on a college campus to see an actual college campus.”

Junior Kelly Vaughan ate lunch with some of the visiting students and answered questions posed by the younger students such as “Do you have parties at college?”

“It was really fun,” Vaughan said. “We told them our names and why we went to college and why it is important to go to college. A lot of what we told them was about why having good grades is important so they can take that back with them and do something with their lives.”

Timberlake said the Caruthers students concluded the day by receiving Baker T-shirts and writing materials. She said the message about the importance of choosing and working to go to any college will remain with them.

“I will always remember students telling me at the end ‘I’m going to go to college,'” Timberlake said. “It gives them a new dimension, a new thing to hope for.”