It gives students the opportunity to dream and dream big and know these opportunities exist in their backyard.
Staelle Dumeus has college in her sights. And, after spending several days at Bridgewater State University, the high schooler understands just how many possibilities a university degree can unlock.
Staelle and about two dozen of her classmates from New Heights Charter School in Brockton recently spent four days visiting academic departments, touring a residence hall, and exploring their potential futures as BSU Bears.
“It allowed me to see how college life is,” Staelle said. “It really helped me with my preparedness. I’m at the point in my life where people have asked what I want to do. Being at Bridgewater has made me think about it instead of just dismissing it.”
As Massachusetts’ first early college charter school, New Heights students graduate with a high school diploma, at least 12 college credits and potentially even an associate degree. Many will become the first in their family to attend college, making programs such as the one at BSU even more important.
“It gives students the opportunity to dream and dream big and know these opportunities exist in their backyard,” said Cecilia De Oliveira, executive director of student success and equity interventions, whose office organized the visit.
Students spent a day at the flight training center at New Bedford Regional Airport (where some even had the opportunity to fly), and met with representatives of BSU’s science, business, and communication studies programs.
“It helps me know what to expect when coming onto a college campus because I’ve never been on a college campus before,” said New Heights student Jeremiah Olivenza.
They also visited the Pride Center and LGCIE, two BSU departments committed to supporting students of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“They know there are people on campus who will support them and who look like them,” said Krystel Love, ’06, career development coordinator at New Heights.
New Heights also brought students to local employers including a television station, courthouse, and the Statehouse. The goal, Love said, is for these incoming 10th graders to start thinking about life after high school.
During a tour of BSU’s Art Center, students painted and wrote on a large canvas titled “Make Your Mark.” Their work will join the approximately 10,000 other pieces of art in the university’s collection.
Jay Block, associate director of collections and exhibitions, left the students with an inspirational message.
“Be brave. Believe in yourself,” Block said. “Go out there and change the world because you can.”
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