Franklin & Marshall, Trinity, York.
These are just a few of the colleges that the 2012 cohort of F&M College Prep students will attend this fall.
A highlight during this summer's three-week college immersion program, which came to a close July 26, was a surprise visit from a group of these students who returned to F&M to meet the 71 rising high-school seniors attending F&M College Prep 2013. The alumni came back to share their insights about a program they said made a tremendous difference in their lives.
"I knew I wanted to go to college, but before F&M College Prep, I don't know where I would have gone," said Sheldon Ruby, who will attend Franklin & Marshall in the fall.
A native of Everett, Pa., Ruby's mother drives a school bus for the bus route the family owns from a state bidding process, and his father is a manager and glazer for a glass company. Ruby's said his parents show tremendous dedication to their jobs, and he said he is very proud of the work they do, but he wanted to pursue his own path.
"I fell in love with F&M while I was here, and coming to a school like this will help me do what I want in life -- become a lawyer and then a politician," Ruby said.
Launched in summer 2011, F&M College Prep enrolls high-achieving rising high school seniors from leading public schools and charter school networks across the country to provide early exposure to college courses and college life. The goal is to ensure that students from underserved backgrounds apply to and enroll in the top schools that match their abilities.
Muata Nkosi, 17 of Newark, N.J., is another College Prep 2012 alumnus who will attend F&M in the fall.
"This program enlightened me on the environment I would have in college," Nkosi said. "I felt I was part of a larger community."
The students said interacting with a diverse group of students, attending classes where they learned directly from professors, and completing independent projects was a growth experience. It motivated them to challenge themselves in a rigorous college environment.
"It really opened up my mind to the fact that knowledge is power," said Mairym Cruz-Bernard, who will attend York College in the fall.
The native of Columbia, Pa., is thinking about studying behavioral science or international affairs. Cruz-Bernard is the first in her family to attend college, and said she already has been a role model to her little sisters, who are ages 2 and 11.
"F&M College Prep inspired me to learn more so I could do more in life," Cruz-Bernard said. "This whole program really did change my life."
Michelle Bailey of Alexandria, Pa., who is bound for F&M, echoed this sentiment: "If it weren't for College Prep, I wouldn't be on the track that I am now."