For the fourth consecutive year, your generous donations ensured 31 dedicated DeKalb County high school students could commit a portion of their summer break to our 2021 Ready, Set, College! summer camp, preparing them to gain admission to college and succeed in higher education and beyond!
In 2020, your generosity helped us make IRC’s first ever virtual iteration of Ready, Set, College! a success, and we are thrilled to report that 100% of seniors who attended last year’s summer camp were accepted into college! To further support these brilliant students, this year’s camp—a hybrid of virtual and in-person—was divided into two different tracks: one for rising 10-12th graders focused on the college application process, and one for recent graduates preparing for their first year of college. As one group received support with writing and editing their personal college essays and applying for colleges and scholarships, the other spent time writing a research paper to prepare for college assignments and participated in workshops focusing on mental health and financial literacy. Both groups came together for activities led by the Georgia State University Psychology department, a tour of GSU’s Clarkston Perimeter campus, and several fun in-person days at Jolly Ave Community Garden!
Our Ready, Set, College! attendees expressed themselves creatively through writing poetry, tie-dying t-shirts, painting a collaborative mural, creating musical instruments from recycled materials and making digital vision board collages. Students also participated in a panel discussion with IRC Youth Futures alumni currently in college who shared about their experiences and answered lots of questions. We closed out the summer with a special awards ceremony to celebrate the hard work of our students and—thanks to a generous supporter—everyone enjoyed treats from Atlanta’s King of Pops!
The IRC in Atlanta’s Student Support Specialist, Cait Fogerty, surveyed the students to hear about their experience with the summer program in their own words:
What was your favorite part of the Ready, Set, College! summer program?
“My favorite part of the summer program is Friday in-person sessions at the Jolly Avenue Garden. I love tie-dying shirts, painting the mural, and making instruments together. That was really fun and I really enjoyed it.”
“My favorite part of the Ready, Set, College! Summer Program is when we writing essay because I'm not good at writing essay and I don't have idea what to write for my college essay but after they explain to me, I understand more and I know what to write.”
“I enjoyed the college research activities. It’s so fun to research information about colleges together.”
“My favorite part of the camp was the presentations. I feel like I was able to gain a lot of valuable information from them and it's always something new so I looked forward to it quite often.”
What are some of the most important things you learned about college through participating in this program?
“I have learned what is expected or required of me when it comes to going to college. I have learned what I need to do, when I need to do them by, and how I need to do them. Specifically speaking, I have learned about personal essays, FAFSA, resumes, different types of colleges, and much more.”
“Some of the most important things I learned about college are to use resources that’s available to you in college, to save money, networking, and to start early on college application.”
“I learned that the college essay should be personal and highlight something you’ve been through and how you grew from it.”
“They taught me that when you have a question do not be afraid to speak up.”
Do you have any remaining questions or comments for us?
“Thank you, I would’ve been lost without this program.”
“It was very helpful and entertaining program, even though I wasn't able to join every session. Thank you to Ms.Cait and Ms. Ijeoma specially for helping me and understanding me, thank you to every tutorial teacher that helped me with my essay. Unfortunately this is my last year but I hope I will be able to join one of the session maybe next year. Bye!!”
“I would like to thank all IRC Youth Futures staff and tutors for spending your summer time with us and helping us prepare for the college.”
“I am going to miss everyone.”
Finally, we are excited to share a collection of the students’ writing from this past summer! Below are some excerpts from our students’ ‘Just Because…’ poems; you can download and enjoy the full collection of our Ready, Set, College! summer camp poems at the following link:
Just because I am different
Doesn’t mean you can go ahead and judge me
Doesn’t mean I am a monster
And doesn’t mean I don’t love myself
I am soft, but I am not weak.
You can’t take advantage of me.
Just because I care about others
Doesn’t mean I will please them more than myself
Doesn’t mean I don’t love myself
And doesn’t mean I don’t matter.
Just because I’m always smiling
Doesn’t mean I’m happy
Doesn’t mean I don’t cry
And doesn’t mean I don’t get sad.
Just because I don’t have my whole life figured out,
Doesn’t mean I am a failure.
Doesn’t mean I will not find my path one day.
Just because I’m confident
Do I have to be besmirched?
Why do I have to be labeled as ostentatious?
Why is it so hard for you to understand that I’m not better than you?
Just because I’m self-assured,
doesn't mean I’m self-absorbed.
Just because: I’m a girl
Why should I have to act a certain way?
Why should I have to dress a certain way?
What would the world be without girls?
I am a girl, but I can do anything that I want.
Just because I am a refugee
Doesn’t mean I am lazy
Doesn’t mean I am not worthy
And doesn’t mean I can’t improve.
Just because I am your daughter
I am a daughter that make you laugh
I am a daughter that make you cry
I am a daughter whose will make you proud
I am a daughter whose love you so much.
To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Senior Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.