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Never Too Young To Go To College

Fifth-Graders Visit Campuses And Get A Vision Of Their Future

April 9, 2005

Jaquan Forde, 10, says he likes the idea of one day being the first member of his family to attend college. And a visit to the University of Hartford with his Rawson Elementary School classmates Friday helped convince him that it just might be possible.

Fifth-graders from Rawson and Annie Fisher elementary schools in Hartford were among more than 1,500 city students who participated in Fifth Graders go to College 2005. Over the past week, all of the city fifth-graders visited one of 11 campuses across the state, where they took tours and ate lunch with college students and participated in activities such as robotics, science experiments, drama or sports.

The program, which began in 1998, aims to encourage Hartford students to begin preparing and planning for college early in their school careers. At first, about 200 city fifth-graders visited nearby college campuses each year. But through the collaboration of the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education, the Hartford Public Schools and St. Paul Travelers, the program was expanded to send every city fifth-grader to visit a college campus this year.

"We want to send a loud message to parents and students that we expect them to achieve and that college is possible and very important for their futures," said Rosanne Druckman, executive director of the Hartford Consortium.

"Fifth-graders have a world of potential before them," said Hartford Superintendent of Schools Robert Henry. "We want to kindle the dream in their young minds that they can graduate from college and compete in the global economy."

In addition to the University of Hartford, city students also visited Capital and Manchester community colleges; Central, Eastern and Southern Connecticut state universities; St. Joseph College; Trinity College; Wesleyan University; and the University of Connecticut campuses in Storrs and West Hartford.

The sun came out as Jaquan and his classmates took a brisk student-led tour across the University of Hartford campus on Friday, carefully avoiding the mud and puddles from the overnight rain. They heard about college life when they stopped at dormitories, classroom buildings, the library, the Lincoln Theater, the Joseloff art gallery and the Gengras student center. They were introduced to college terms such as bursar, registrar and dean.

Alfred Durant, 12, from Rawson said he was impressed by a large model of the campus on display in the library and two students who were expertly kicking a hacky sack around outside. "I would like to go to college to learn how to draw," he said.

Tiffany Jonah, 12, of Annie Fisher, said she liked seeing the library and the many large, open lounge areas where students could meet on campus. Jawaun Bosh, 10, of Annie Fisher, said he liked stopping to watch students who were sculpting clay.

But for most of the fifth-graders, a stop at the university sports complex where they met three Hartford Hawks basketball players and Head Coach Larry Harrison was the highlight of the visit. Harrison urged them to spend as much time in the library and reading as they do in the gym. He also talked to them about paying for a college education.

"Not all scholarships are for athletes. You can get scholarships for academic achievement, or if you play a musical instrument or draw well," Harrison said. "If you read and learn and keep getting better at what you're good at, you will be able to go to college in 2012."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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