Some would say that thinking about college at fourteen or fifteen years old is ridiculous and irrelevant. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. But for the JCITs at St. Stephen’s Youth Programs it is a new and exciting adventure that seems far off but extremely applicable. What a great mindset to have, am I right? So...how do we at SSYP address this type of interest in college with our teens, whether freshman or seniors in high school? We take them on a college visit!
On Friday, February 3rd, our JCITs went to Tufts University in Medford, MA. We convened and met Alex in Davis Square, which is only a 10 minute walk away from the university. This school year the JCIT program has been lucky enough to welcome the wonderful Alex Jeremiah, who happens to be a senior at Tufts as well as the Tufts Tisch Scholar working with our ninth graders. Alex has been a tremendous asset to the JCIT team and the teens seem to enjoy his passion, excitement and motivation to engage in conversation about diversity, justice, and college life. With Alex as our tour guide for the day, we knew we were in good hands.
Our first stop was the dining hall, which we learned was open from 8am-9pm. As soon as we entered the building, the JCITs’ faces lit up. It took us all about ten minutes to actually decide what we wanted considering all the choices we were given. Once we got to the table, I noticed that some of the favorites were the cheeseburgers, pizza, and of course, ice cream (oh, to be young again). My favorite line from the dining hall was, “I would stay here all day.” From this point on we began exploring the upper and lower campuses. From checking out the Tisch Library, to getting to see a classroom, to hanging out in a computer lab and taking a picture with what we learned was a million dollar elephant statue, we saw it all and braved the cold! The JCITs favorite part was exploring the residence halls. Alex willingly took us into the residence hall he where he is an RA and walked us down the halls and showed us his room. The teens were in awe. They would see an open door, walk in, and say hello to the occupants. Fortunately, all of the Tufts students were very welcoming and engaging. It was at this point that I heard some of the JCITs say, “I want to be in college now” or “Wow! College students are so nice.” As their JCIT Program Coordinator, this put a smile on my face.
Our day began to come to a close and as we finished walking around campus I could hear the excitement in the JCITs’ voices. They were having fun, they were enjoying themselves and they were now exposed to a whole new world outside of high school. They were, essentially, looking at what their future could be like, whether they realized it or not. And that is the coolest part about all of this. Finally, we got on the Tufts shuttle back to Davis Square and headed back to St. Stephen’s. College...irrelevant? The JCITs don’t think so!
By Bella Vidaña, JCIT Coordinator