College. To go or not to go. For many high school students that is the question. For some, perhaps even asking that question might seem out of reach. Creating an environment where college becomes relevant is what Metanoia’s Youth Leadership Academy is about. Offering scholars the chance to broaden horizons through exposure to opportunity creates motivation. Overcoming the questions of “Why try?” and “What does it matter?” when your opportunities have been limited is not easy, but it is worth it. It takes time to build a place from which our students feel safe enough to reach higher. The more exposure to opportunity, the more success they witness among their neighbors and respected mentors, the more “Why try?” becomes “What college should I go to?” “How can I make this happen?”
This is what our annual high school trip and college tour is all about! As students walked through campuses at Georgia Tech, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities Morehouse College, and Spelman College, our young leaders began to envision themselves as future college students. Growing the knowledge that it’s not only within reach to apply to college but having others that have walked before you and are willing to show you how to realize that dream emboldens these young leaders. Folks like Mr. Irving Fordham, a graduate of Georgia Tech, who coordinated much of the trip on the Atlanta end. We will forever be grateful for his words of wisdom to the students and his commitment to make this a successful trip for them. While there our students heard a career panel of powerful speakers. Career panel participant Mr. Zae Higgins, a young professional who lives in Atlanta, shared his personal experience from applying to college, attending college, and then the early years of building a career. Miss Sarina Mouzon, another panelist in the discussion, shared key information about having lost a state funded scholarship because she had bad study habits that carried over from high school, offering motivation to the students to apply themselves now. This kind of connection matters. This is #whatcommunitylookslike.
Making college realistic and attainable to our high school students is key to answering that initial question of “Why try?”. When given a future opportunity to work towards that feels realistic, aren’t we all willing to work harder, dig deeper, and realize our potential? So, for Mr. Fordham, Mr. Higgins, the parents that have invested in each student, and every person that sponsored our students to attend this trip, thank you for making the question of college a choice that feels real to our scholars. Thank you for working together as a community to provide another way to see just what happens when investment meets opportunity!