Reaching College Bound

College Bound Communities

College Bound Communities

By: Aurelia Spaulding
“I had people telling me I needed to go to college, but I didn’t have any people giving me their experiences,” WKU Senior Kenzie Jones said. “I thought back to when I was in high school, and I really didn’t have anybody to step in and say ‘Oh, I have been to college…this is what you need to do’.”
Knowing how shared experiences from a college student would have helped her, Jones decided to take part in the College Bound Communities (CBC) program at Western Kentucky University.

Designed to assist low-income, first-generation students in preparation for college, CBC connects students in grades eleven and twelve at Bowling Green and Warren Central High Schools with a mentor from WKU or the community.

WKU Talent Search Director, Martha Sales, created the CBC program, which served fifty high school students during the 2009-2010 academic year. Sales said she tries to match students and mentors by taking into consideration the mentor and mentees skills and areas of knowledge.

Jones met her mentee, Warren Central Senior Destiny Waller, in February 2010 and immediately began a relationship that exemplified the goals of College Bound Communities and the dreams of Jones.

“I basically just want to help people in some sort of way,” Jones said. When she met Waller, she had already applied and gained acceptence into college and completed her financial aid. Therefore, one of their first discussion topics was selecting a college. Jones said they weighed the pros and cons of each school Waller wanted to attend, and she chose Kentucky State University. Jones and Waller discussed other topics such as financial aid, time management, campus involvement, and church away from home.

Jones believes her courses in Communications helped prepare her for being a mentor. “Communication is always going to bridge any gap. All of my classes have taught me the basics of relationship building and networking. I have had classes that have taught me goal-setting and different things like that.” The two discussed goal-setting for housing (on and off campus), maintaining grades, and choosing a major.

Junior Jasmine Kelly talked to her Warren Central High School mentee, Ajsela Grahovic, about scholarships and even emailed her different for which to apply. “At first, she was discouraged, but after much encouragement, she worked hard and was awarded two (scholarships).” Kelly believes “most young people relate better to mentors their age.”

The mentors are asked to communicate with the mentees monthly and meet the students at least once during the year. All but four of the students took advantage of having a mentor. A total of twenty workshops and sessions were provided at Bowling Green and Warren Central High School, and eight workshops were presented by WKU faculty, staff, and students.

One objective with CBC is to provide leadership skills and opportunities for students to give back to their community. According to Sales, all of the high school students participated in at least one community advocacy opportunity, such as Warren Elementary, Medco nursing home, Seventh Street Baptist Church, Housing Authority of Bowling Green, and the WKU Project AIMS (Activating Interest in Minority Students) program.

“I feel that it is very important to have someone who is there for you and to guide you throughout life or in an area that someone feels should be nurtured,” Kelly said.

Approaching the fall semester, both Waller and Grahovic are registered to attend a college or university. The WKU students communicate with them regularly and intend to stay in touch during the academic year. With the assistance of the mentors, all 41 seniors graduated from high school. Official number of students attending college will be available during the fall of 2010.

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