Ben Robertson, YAC member, and Noelle Kraus, Edwardsburg eighth-grader, are both college material. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT
Ben Robertson, YAC member, and Noelle Kraus, Edwardsburg eighth-grader, are both college material. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

They’re college material

Published 5:59pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

Around 150 students from the counties of Berrien and Cass learned they were “college material” this week during a special program put on by the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council at Lake Michigan College.

Students spent several hours Wednesday and Thursday at the college’s Napier campus learning about college life and the importance of pursuing a higher education.

The program was designed to expose eighth-graders to college life, especially students coming from low-income homes or homes in which the parents didn’t go to college. The students heard from teachers, current college students and toured the facilities — all in an effort to get them thinking about going to college.

Attending were 30 students from each of the Brandywine, Cassopolis, Marcellus, Buchanan and Edwardsburg middle schools.

Brendon Swem, a Buchanan Middle School student, always wanted to go to college, but said he feels more strongly about going now.

“To see all the events and what everybody does and all the choices you have — it’s just great,” he said. “If you just have your high school diploma, you might not be able to get the job you want. You might not be doing what you want to do.”

Quinlan Callicott’s first choice is to be a professional athlete, but the Edwardsburg eighth-grader knows he needs a backup plan, too.

“My plan B is to be a lawyer, so I’ll definitely need to go to college,” said Callicott.

One thing Callicott learned Thursday is you don’t have to travel far to get a good education.

“I thought you had to go somewhere else, like across the state, but you can go to a place like this (LMC), too. I didn’t know that,” he said.

The program was created solely by high school students in the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC).

The YAC members put it into motion with the help of Lake Michigan College and Barbara Craig, executive dean of Bertrand Crossing Campus.

YAC members acted as mentors, giving eighth-graders guidance throughout the two-day program.

“When I was in eighth grade, my parents pushed hard to go to college,” said Alec DeJong, YAC member Brandywine sophomore. “Some of these eighth-graders don’t have that, so we are here to help them realize that college is important.”

Fellow YAC member Noah Woods said it’s important for young students, like the eighth-graders, to begin thinking about college.

“We want them to see where they are going or where they could go,” said Woods, a Cassopolis sophomore. “We also want them to know they have options close to home.”

Jayne Lamb, YAC advisor, said the program was funded through a College Positive Community Challenge grant through The Kresge Foundation.

She said the YAC members worked hard to make it happen.

“They aren’t afraid to tackle any project. I think they are making a big difference in the lives of these kids,” she said.

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