Thursday, July 22, 2010

First Countdown to College set for July 24-Aug. 7

Saint Mary’s will host its first Countdown to College July 24-Aug. 7 in Winona. This two-week program for students from economically underprivileged communities will be offered to students each year for four years — beginning just after they complete eighth grade and continuing until they reach college age — helping to assure each student is prepared for a successful college experience.

The 25 participants in Countdown to College attend schools in the Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Tucson metropolitan areas. Preference is given to graduates of Saint Mary’s middle school partners in the NativityMiguel Network of Jesuit and Christian Brothers’ schools, which are located in these cities.

Countdown to College is funded for 2010-2013 by a generous donation from Jack and Mary Ann Remick of Rochester, Minn. Mary Ann is also the chairwoman of the SMU First-Generation Advisory Board.

The camp is completely free to student participants, their parents (who come the first weekend) and teachers from their schools, who co-teach with SMU instructors, and help prepare SMU instructors on how to effectively work with this growing population of students.

Daily schedules will mix college orientation with academic classes, sports, recreation, supervised study halls, academic contests, movies with a message, game room and celebrations. Academic classes will include reading, writing, math, and grammar/vocabulary. Weekends will feature field trips as well as academic and social/recreational activities.

The camp is the foundation portion of Saint Mary’s First-Generation Initiative, a program designed to offer academic and personal support to first-generation students as they transition into higher education. It is the hope that through the FGI program, up to 15 students will be eligible to receive full SMU scholarships each year for the next four years, starting this fall. The level will eventually be maintained at 60 qualifying students. Additionally, SMU First-Generation students will be supported through College Colleagues, a campus mentoring program that pairs students with a support team to help them through college life.