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SMC gears up for visits from area high school students

Zook, Nichole | Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Saint Mary’s campus will host a different kind of freshmen and sophomores today and Friday, as 22 ninth and tenth grade students from area high schools participate in the “My First Day in College” program.

Sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the program is designed to give these young women – from high schools including Clay, Riley and Washington – a glimpse of college life, said Marie Willis, assistant director of multicultural affairs.

“We want to create a relationship with them and provide them [with] opportunities,” Willis said. “They need to know that they can be part of a college community.”

The Office of Multicultural Affairs matched the students with Saint Mary’s volunteers by judging each party’s academic interests. The high school students will stay with the Saint Mary’s women overnight and attend their classes as guests on Friday morning.

“One of the things I think is really good about this program is that we have them go through classes. A lot of pre-college programs don’t offer that opportunity,” Willis said.

She also believes that the personal relationship between the students will benefit not just the younger woman, but also their collegiate mentors.

“If a [high school] student’s not sure college is an option for her, the relationship with the Saint Mary’s student can be really beneficial to her,” Willis said. “The Saint Mary’s students benefit from the fact that they can give something back. I think sometimes college students like it because it’s different. It’s outside the Saint Mary’s bubble.”

Willis said that many of the 26 Saint Mary’s women who offered to host a high school student have been through similar programs in the past.

The program, which was also hosted in November, includes not just classes and a stay in a dorm room, but many other opportunities available only in a college setting.

Tonight, the movie “Real Women Have Curves” will be shown in conjunction with Counseling and Career Development. It will be followed by a discussion on body image and eating disorders. Students may also choose to attend the Patriot Act lecture sponsored by Peacemakers, Justice Education and the Student Diversity board. They may also participate in a Saint Mary’s scavenger hunt.

Friday’s activities will include classes, a campus tour, admissions office visits and a panel discussion. The panel, composed of Saint Mary’s students, will discuss college life with the visiting high school students.

Willis hopes the girls’ stay at Saint Mary’s will give the them a taste of college.

“We want them to know how different this is from high school,” she said.