- Union County Public Schools
FHHS and MHS Wayfind Scholars get a taste of college life at Wayfind Summer Camp
Nearly five months ago, 20 East Union Middle and HSA at Monroe Middle eighth graders were inducted into the inaugural class of Wayfind, a free college-access program and first-of-its-kind college preparatory partnership between UCPS and Wingate University.
It’s been a whirlwind experience for the students, who have since been paired with Wingate University mentors, started to create a road map for college planning, and spent the past several months learning about career options, college costs, resources for SAT and ACT prep and more.
But what better way to guide students to college than providing them with their own opportunity to get a taste of college life?
Enter the inaugural Wayfind Summer Camp.
From July 7 – 9, the Wayfind Scholars moved into Wingate University dorms to experience campus life. Their agenda was packed with a number of experiences, including visits to Queens and Elon universities as well as opportunities to meet and talk to current college students.
A series of workshops – which were facilitated by Wingate University professors, UCPS school leaders and administrators, business leaders and Board of Education members -- focused on topics such as self-management skills, diversity, purpose and passion, how to successfully transition to high school and professional etiquette.
By the end of the second day, rising Forest Hills High ninth grader Robert Smith said the entire camp was an eye-opening experience for him.
He’d never visited a college campus before and had no idea what to expect when he arrived. One thing he did know, however, was that he made a promise to himself that he would take advantage of every opportunity and activity presented to him.
“The summer camp is teaching us to be more open-minded and look at the world in a different way,” he said. “In the diversity workshop, we played a game that showed the importance of being patient with people who may not know a lot about your culture, and we talked about why it’s important to educate others so you can all be on the same level. That was something that we could all benefit from now and in the future.”
However, it was the Purpose and Passion session that Robert said had the most profound impact on him. The roundtable discussions and facilitated dialogue by professors were so inspiring that it made him reflect on his own life.
“My passion in life is to succeed. I want to succeed for myself, for my siblings and my community,” he said. “I want people to look at me and know that if they focus and put in the work, they can do whatever it is that they want to do. Nothing can hold you back as long as you know in your heart where you want to go.”
It’s a passion that Robert believes all of the Wayfind Scholars share because they each have their own personal story of why this summer camp and Wayfind program means so much to them.
“Life can throw curveballs at anyone and we see the effects of that. As kids, we’re all just trying to succeed and the Wayfind program and summer camp is the extra push we need,” he said. “Our mentors are more than mentors, they’re our friends who are here to help us get through the hurdles and struggles. This program and camp is really inspiring and I’m here to learn as much as I can so that I can succeed in the future.”