Thanks to your generous donations, 25 dedicated DeKalb County high school students were supported to commit more than 400 hours of their summer break to our first-ever virtual Ready, Set, College! summer camp, preparing them to gain admission to college and succeed in higher education and beyond!
In their usual creative and adaptable style, the IRC in Atlanta’s Youth team rose to the virtual challenge posed by COVID-19 and developed a robust and engaging summer program for our DeKalb County high school students, including interactive Zoom sessions, independent assignments and virtual tutoring hours. Each of the 25 students received support with writing and editing their college personal essay, creating a resume and completing college applications. They attended workshops on choosing a college and career path, the college application process and financial aid and scholarships. Additionally, students participated in virtual activities led by the Georgia State University Psychology department, as well as twice-weekly SAT preparation sessions with our partners, Re’Generation Movement.
Our Ready, Set, College! attendees also expressed themselves through writing poetry, attended a virtual field trip to Paris using Google Street View, created digital vision board collages and discussed sexual health through the IRC's new #HelloooAmerica YouTube series. To learn about careers they are interested in, students interviewed IRC volunteers, including nurses, an engineer, a photographer, artists, small business owners, a missionary, a social worker and a lawyer. Finally, students participated in a panel discussion with IRC Youth Futures alumni currently in college who shared about their experiences and answered lots of questions!
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 Ready Set, College! summer program was meeting each other in the Zoom and I learned a lot about college. I learned how to use the Common App and this will be easy for me, family and friends in the future. Even though we didn't go to Paris for real, it was fun looking at screen thinking like I'm there.”
“I like that we get to write an essay, resume and complete Common App. This makes me feel ready to go to college and that I will not have to stress out a lot during the school year.”
“I liked all parts because all were really helpful. But if I have to choose one it will be interviewing Veronica from the career path I am interested in because I learned a lot about the field of public health.” - Ehab, 11th grade
“My favorite part was when we learn about the different types of financial aid. Because we all want to know how to get scholarship to attend any college that we like.”
“My favorite part of the Ready, Set, College! summer program was the overall journey because if it wasn't for this program, I wouldn't learn so much about college. I'm very grateful towards all of you guys for creating this program and helping us get through this.”
What are some of the most important things you learned about college through participating in this program?
“I learned that applying for colleges can be a challenging process. It needs courage, determination, effort and concentration to complete it.”
“I learned that going to college is something that is possible. Even big colleges if you have a plan.”
“Colleges are not all the same and they have different requirements. Once you go to college, it could be very challenging as a freshman but always stay motivated and be open-minded.” - Ti Meh, 12th grade
“The most important thing I have learned about college through participating in this program is that I need to write a personal essay and it's not easy so I'm grateful for all the help I got.”
Do you have any remaining questions or comments for us?
“I really appreciate that I was accepted into this program because I am the only one that goes to school in my family and I do not have any siblings that can help me. I really need a lot of help and advice. I asked someone in my community who is in GSU for some advice and she told me I am too young to know about college and university. That made me so mad and I was like ‘wow is this how life is?’ After 3 weeks I saw this program post in Instagram, and it didn't take me even 1 second to do the application. I cannot even describe how much this program made me happy. May God bless IRC.” - Si Ngo, 12th grade
“I want to thank and appreciate all of the staff who are a part of this virtual summer program for working hard to teach us different things related to college and life. It is your hard work that made this program happen and able to help many students learn during this pandemic time. I just want to say thank you so much and I learned a lot of things.”
“I had an amazing summer camp. All the IRC staff were deeply helpful and always supportive. I learned a lot about college. Thank you so much for your time even though with the current circumstance, y’all made the virtual learning so fun!”
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:
Why do I have to be treated differently than others?
Why can't I just have a normal happy life?
Why can't I be who I want to be?
I am a proud, independent, beautiful
and respectful Muslim lady. Periodttt!!
Just because I am 4’9”
Doesn’t mean I can’t reach 6ft
Just because I am from Africa
Doesn’t mean I’m dangerous
Doesn’t mean I don't have education.
And doesn’t mean I go in street to beg for food
Just because I am me
Does having dark skin make you dangerous?
Do all African have to be poor?
Just because I am Muslim
Doesn’t mean I am not a feminist
Doesn’t mean I am quiet
And doesn’t mean I can’t change the world
Why is it when I’m quiet, I’m perceived as standoffish?
Why do I have to prove myself to the world?
Yes, I keep to myself. Yes, I may be shy, but I’m not speechless.
Just because I come to the USA
Doesn’t mean my country is poor
Doesn’t mean I hated my country
And doesn’t mean I hated my people
Doesn’t mean I insult people
Doesn’t mean I am a terrorist
And doesn’t mean I hate people
in different countries or continents
Does not quiet mean listening?
Does not diversity make the world a better place?
I am being quiet to listen and you can’t make a
judgement of me based on what you see in a few
minutes of what I do and how I look.
Just because I am an immigrant
Doesn’t mean I am not a normal child
Doesn’t mean I should not enjoy my life
And doesn’t mean I have to give more than others
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 Development Director, Marian Dickson, at Marian.Dickson [at] Rescue.org or 601-310-3174.