College Prep Institute
California Dreaming: Four Students Experience Life at Spelman and Love it
This summer, four high school students spent part their time sharpening their skills to launch a successful college search. Thanks to For Richmond, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of education for youth in Richmond, California, four rising high school juniors in Richmond received a head start at the process. Funded and sponsored by For Richmond, the nonprofit provided full scholarships for Ciara Dossman, Quelane “Star” Levi, Geramani Martin, and Izabel Rodriguez to attend the program.
A fifth Richmond student, Lea Battle, is currently enrolled in the Early College Program. Like her Richmond peers, Battle’s tuition is also paid in full by For Richmond. As part of ECP, rising high school seniors like Battle earn college credit, attend leadership and college prep seminars, and participate in cultural field trips and social activities.
Spearheaded by Jordan Greer, C’2012, who works as a community convener with For Richmond, the Spelman initiative started with the idea to expose students to as many colleges and universities as possible. As a Spelman alumna, Greer immediately suggested her alma mater, and convinced her boss, Kyra Worthy, to add Spelman to the roster.
Once Spelman, Fisk, Tennessee State University and the University of New Mexico were chosen as select colleges, Greer created an outreach program specifically designed for Richmond students to attend her alma mater. Greer worked with parents to complete application packets, assisted students with developing their personal statements and recommendations, and traveled with them to Spelman before the program started.
“I’m very happy they were able to make it through the program,” Greer said. “It was somewhat of a culture shock and many of them were homesick, but the students said everyone was so friendly, warm and welcoming. They learned to adapt and adjust to the culture and environment.”
During the two-week residential program, CPI participants receive the necessary strategies to improve performance on standardized tests while exploring careers, gaining exposure to resume writing and participating in sessions on reading, English, math and writing. Students also gain exposure to rigorous test preparation, daily workshops, college research, financial services and college etiquette, and complete a portfolio by the end of the program.
Greer said the program has been a huge success, in large part because students have learned self-reliance and experienced an exceptional college experience. She said many of the participants have already expressed interest in attending Spelman.
“The experience was well worth it for the students,” Greer said. “It was very impactful.”
“This is a great initiative,” said Worthy, who is executive director of For Richmond. “It’s important for girls to be around like-minded peers. The education and exposure at an HBCU is very important for these students to see, because a lot of them don’t really experience this because it’s so different from being in California. It allows girls to see what it’s like out there. Working with Spelman staff was a great experience.”