Bill Rosenberger of The Herald-Dispatch interviews College Summit alumni and volunteers who attend or graduated from Marshall University about why they give back to College Summit.
HUNTINGTON — Marshall University sophomore Jamecia James is working hard this weekend as a volunteer with the national program College Summit.
The program aims to better prepare high school students, primarily those who would be the first in their family to go to college, entering their senior year with a better understanding of the college application process and a glimpse of living on campus.
James, from Charleston, attended College Summit in 2009 at West Virginia State University. It was there she participated in one of the writing sessions to help students write their personal mission statements.
“My personal statement earned me two scholarships,” James said Friday, during the first of four College Summit weekends to be held on Marshall’s campus this summer.
“The coaches and leaders pushed my limits, to go the extra mile,” she said.
During the four-day sessions, students work with alumni leaders such as James, who went through the program and are now volunteering their summers to give back to a program they say helped them.
Students go through sessions on college admissions, touring the campus, meeting one-on-one with a college counselor and learning how to take these new tools back to their school to share with their peers.
Jennifer Wood, the West Virginia community relations specialist for College Summit, said there are 62 students from Kanawha and Wyoming counties. More students from various counties also will attend June 23-26, July 7-10 and July 14-17.
Morgan Shillingburg, who just graduated from Marshall, said the program “flat out works.”
“There are a lot of community outreach programs like this ... but (College Summit) is about teaching them how to fight, to get it for themselves,” he said. “It empowers them.”
Shillingburg has worked with College Summit for the past four years and said his observations are that college is a big question mark for the students who come. Some aren’t sure if they want to attend college, some don’t know what to do to get in and others are nervous or have questions about various aspects of college life, such as living in the dorm with a new roommate.
“We’re able to walk the students through the entire process,” Wood added.
Fourth-year student Brian Summers said he shares a very personal experience about his first year of college at Marshall. He was put on academic probation after his first semester, didn’t catch up in the spring and was placed on academic suspension the following fall semester. He has since righted the ship, but he said his College Summit experience in 2007 helped him get through the re-enrollment process with Marshall and financial aid.
“Last year, I received four or five acknowledgments (from the students) about my experience,” Summers said. “They said it saved their college future.”
Don Cheadle College Summit Founding Spokesman
Learn more about College Summit by watching this informational video.
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