Approximately 250 sixth graders from the Turtle Hook Middle School in Uniondale got a taste of the college life today when they visited Hofstra as part of the College2Kids Program. This program, funded by a grant from the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in partnership with the Sallie Mae Fund, is structured to give students the opportunity to learn more about college and career paths and begin planning for their future.
Upon arrival this morning, the students and their teachers were greeted by Melissa Connolly, vice president for university relations; Dr. Susan Nesbitt Perez, CICU vice president; and Dr. Eustace Thompson, chair of Hofstra’s programs in Teacher Education. Dr. Thompson also served for 14 years as the principal of Turtle Hook. “This program,” he said of College2Kids, “is designed to make you aware of college level educational opportunities and to give you a road map for achieving your educational goals.”
Dr. Thompson explained that because technology is evolving so fast, it’s possible that the children may grow up to work in jobs that do not currently exist. For this reason, college is especially important. He said college helps identify 21st century skills needed for future success. “We teach you team work skills. We focus on your ability to communicate with others effectively. We give you the ability to analyze information. We teach you strategic planning strategies. We address areas of social media and online communication.”
After the welcome, the students broke up into groups and were able to attend two sample classes taught by Hofstra professors in a number of different areas, including engineering, athletics, sociology, biology, geology, television, music and library studies.
Teacher Sonja Dobson, who has taught ELA for 14 years at Turtle Hook, recognizes the value of sixth graders attending a college-based program. “I want this to give them an idea of what college life is like. Hopefully it will inspire them to attend in the future. I have already had a few students say to me that they don’t intend to go to college. I’m hoping today will show them that college is possible for everyone. Hard work and going to college will open up a lot of doors for their future.”
Monica Alonso, 12, was eager to express how much she was enjoying the day. While sitting in on a geology class taught by the chair of the department, Dr. Bret Bennington, she said, “I think this day will show kids that college is important and the opportunities they can have from going. It also guides and prepares you for high school and shows all the careers you can think about for when you grow up.”
Her classmate, Handerson Romero, also 12, agreed. “This day gets kids to think about if they want to go to college and what kinds of jobs they might be interested in.” Both Monica and Handerson said that they would like to someday be engineers.