Students from Flint get to experience college life at CMU

Judy Pamp, Assistant Director of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe's Ziibiwing Center, 6650 E. Broadway St., demonstrates how to make a dreamcatcher to Kenosha Frost, 15, and Mykel Thompson, 15 of Flint. "It's different," Thompson said. "You get to learn about new cultures." (Amelia Eramya/Staff Photographer)

Students from inner-city Flint are getting an opportunity to enhance their lives through a program called GEARUP–College Day.

The program involves any seventh to 11th-graders enrolled in Flint public schools who are interested in higher education.

The program is a partnership between Central Michigan University, Flint public schools and the Charles Mott Foundation, as well as the U.S. Department of Education.

The students participate in various activities throughout a span of six weeks, including an education program and an on-campus program at CMU.

“The purpose is to help students become aware of a higher education, whether that be to prepare for college, a trade school or apprenticeship,” said Tina Natale, the program’s academic adviser. “It doesn’t matter what, just something beyond what they’re already doing and help give them a plan for success in their life.”

While the students spend time at CMU, they attend classes similar to the courses they would take in college, including math, science, and English. They stay in the residence halls to get acquainted with college life and learn to live with others.

“Even though it’s summer, the kids are really excited to learn about things they’ve never even heard of,” said temporary faculty member John Graveratte. “Especially science. We had a great experience where I taught them about air currents and the oceans, then they listened to a news broadcast on NPR about plastic trash vortexes in the ocean.”

The program started in 1999 when CMU partenered with Charles Mott Foundation initially and Flint public schools  joined in shortly afterward.

“This is my fifth summer doing the program, I love it,” Flint student, Anganette Haggard, 16, said. “It keeps me out of trouble, because during summer when you’re sitting at home bored, that’s when your mind starts a-brewing.”

Haggard is going into 11th-grade and after graduating will start an internship at University of Michigan hospital for the university’s medical program, which will give her an associate’s degree, along with the college courses she is already taking already.

Natale said the students will make resumes including volunteer experience they have participated in through the program.

“This program really makes me step outside of my comfort zone and challenge me to make goals for myself,” said Kenneth Scott, a 15-year old who wants to become a pediatrician. He plans to attend CMU for a Bachelors’ degree and then pursue his doctorate at the University of California -- Los Angeles.

“The GEARUP–College Day really gives students hope when there isn’t much out there for them,” Natale said. “They’re all city kids that need people to push them to make the best out of their lives and help them to see what else is out there.”


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