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LANCASTER, Pa.—On Feb. 15, Franklin & Marshall College’s Mayser Gymnasium will swing open its doors and welcome 200 exceptional juniors from rural Pennsylvania high schools for a daylong introduction to college life.
During F&M College Summit, the students will tour campus, talk with current students and professors and get an overview of the college-application and financial-aid processes.
The project’s co-organizers are Shawn Jenkins ’10, special assistant to the Dean of the College for strategic projects, and Emily Weir ’09, assistant director of the National College Advising Corps-Keystone Region (NCAC). NCAC hires advisers, all of whom are recent graduates of one of four partner colleges—Dickinson, Franklin & Marshall and Gettysburg colleges and Millersville University—to help primarily low-income or first-generation students from the central part of the state make their way to college.
“We’re hoping to expose these students to the different college options, especially the liberal arts,” Weir says. “For a lot of these students, this will be their first time on a college campus. Our goal is to generate a lot of informative and exciting conversation among the participants and current F&M students and faculty.”
Approximately 80 students, faculty and staff members and volunteers will lend a hand throughout the day.
“F&M College Summit offers students a tangible sense of what college is like and what they are capable of achieving,” President Daniel R. Porterfield says. “All students deserve access to the information and guidance that will empower them to pursue their education and transform lives. F&M is glad to help provide that opportunity.”
The summit is part of a larger effort by F&M to improve access to higher education for students from traditionally underserved areas. Last July, 23 rising seniors from the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)—a national network of public charter schools dedicated to helping underserved students excel in college and in life—attended F&M College Prep, a three-week, pre-college immersion workshop. This summer, the program will welcome students from KIPP, NCAC, Newark Charter School Fund, Mastery Charter Schools and Achievement First.
Between 50 and 60 students from those partner networks will arrive here July 6 for three weeks of academic and social development and college-preparatory training, says Jenkins, who is responsible for coordinating F&M College Prep. The students will take courses in a variety of topics, including studio art, environmental sustainability, globalization and creative writing. They’ll also participate in workshops on the college-admission and -application process, essay writing and SAT preparation.
“The program exposes the students to F&M, but more importantly, it gets them to begin seeing themselves at an institution of higher education,” Jenkins says. “We want them to develop a mindset that is college-aspirational. We’re building this critical mass of students with high promise who may not have the resources they need to succeed on their own.”
Ellie Mundale ’14 is one such student. The graduate of Southern Fulton Junior/Senior High School in Warfordsburg, Fulton County, says she relied heavily on her adviser, Mark Lund ’05, throughout the search and application process.
“I had no idea how to apply to college or what kind of college I was looking for,” said Mundale, who is leaning toward majoring in American studies. “I probably sent him at least five drafts of my college-application essay. I could talk to him about anything college-related, and I knew he would help me figure it out.”
Lexi D’Addio ’13 was a junior at Manheim Central High School in Manheim Borough, Lancaster County, when she decided F&M was her first-choice college. Her NCAC adviser guided her through the application and financial aid process, and today she is double majoring in anthropology and studio art with a minor in Italian. She has studied abroad in Vicchio, Italy, and is one of four students helping English Professor Sands Hall vet and edit submissions to F&M Alumni Arts Review, a compilation of art, poetry and prose created by Franklin & Marshall alumni.
“My parents felt really strongly that I should go to college,” says D’Addio, the eldest of four children. “I was really grateful for the financial aid package I received to come here, because I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. I really love it here.”