Home Away From Home
Home. A safe place. It means something a little different to everyone. But over the past two summers, I have realized the true meaning of the word. I never knew that a home could be built in less than a week. Maybe the home improvement shows on TV can do it, but that’s not the home I’m talking about. Not a house with the welcome mat out front. A home is where family lives. During summer months, families and homes are created on college campuses every week through College Summit workshops.
Sitting down with a college counselor, peer leaders get a glimpse into their brighter future of education. Lists of schools selected just for them – matching their program/major of choice with a school that meets their needs regarding size, extracurriculars, and admissions requirements. They receive general advice about college and their next steps toward success. Writing groups are where creativity meets pen and paper. These sessions help students craft personal statements for college entrance essays. These sessions are not English or writing courses from what we recall from our days in a classroom nervously awaiting the wrath of the red pen. These sessions are a creative place where compassion, dedication, and emotion live. College Summit workshops are places where students feel safe to share and embrace who they are. Staff members have also been known to find themselves here, myself included. It is the most rewarding and enlightening place I have ever been. Between volunteering at my alma mater, WVU Institute of Technology, last summer and my current employer, University of Charleston, this summer, it was an eye-opening experience to be familiar places physically and geographically but feel transported to an entirely different place emotionally and mentally.
College Summit is family. It is home. These “places” can live anywhere. They are not dependent upon a geographic location or a building made of bricks and mortar.That is the premise and hope of College Summit. College Summit volunteers and staff want the peer leaders to take this experience with them not only through their senior year, but through college and beyond. For those who have volunteered, participated, and therefore experienced what it means to BE College Summit, they realize that their lives will never be the same. I know mine won’t and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Family, home, and education are words with new meanings for me now and I have a different outlook on the future. College Summit is a real approach to college access and education for today and tomorrow.
Go ahead. Become a part of College Summit. You’ll change and be changed. I have no doubt.