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Wayfind Program expands, empowering more students with college opportunities

Wingate University and Union County Public Schools (UCPS) expanded the Wayfind Program, opening doors to more college opportunities. This initiative has equipped students with crucial college preparation resources, including mentorship, since its launch in 2019. It has served East Union Middle, Monroe Middle, Forest Hills High and Monroe High. With Sun Valley Middle and Porter Ridge Middle joining, its impact reaches even more students. These students will continue in Wayfind at Sun Valley High and Porter Ridge High in the 2024-2025 school year. 

On Feb. 22, district leaders, Wayfind representatives, and school administrators informed six eighth-grade students from Sun Valley Middle and 10 from Porter Ridge Middle of their acceptance into the program. They visited classrooms with balloons and certificates, announcing the news to cheers from classmates. The recipients showed a range of emotions, eager to share the exciting news with their families.

"I'm still a bit shocked. I can't wait to see all the opportunities this will bring me. I was so worried I might not get in. I wanted it," said Telli Green from Sun Valley Middle.

The Wayfind program is a selective program for underrepresented students in higher education. Upon acceptance, Wayfind Scholars receive mentoring and support for four and a half years, from the second semester of eighth grade through high school. Those who complete the mentoring program, apply to Wingate University, and gain acceptance can receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship. Wingate University has committed over $2.5 million to support the inaugural class of Wayfind Scholars who graduated from high school in 2023.

"I'm excited to be the first person in my family to have the chance to go to college," said Aubri Huntley from Sun Valley Middle.

Dr. Gina Chisum, Sun Valley Middle principal, was delighted to share the news and see the students' reactions.  

"This program embodies what we stand for, which is developing leaders. We can empower our students to take charge of their destiny beyond high school, and being part of that process is indescribable. It brings joy," said Dr. Chisum.  

The students at Porter Ridge Middle also felt excited about joining the program this year. Millie Cabriales-Luna's face lit up with a beaming smile that stretched from ear to ear the moment her name was called.

"I'm so happy because my mom won't have to pay for college," said Millie.

Her classmate Nelly Morales, who was also accepted, said, "This is a big step that will open up a lot of opportunities for my future."

Porter Ridge Middle Principal Dr. Brian Patience expressed his joy about having the program at his school, "We have tremendous kids here who work hard every day, who will get a chance to go to a four-year university; that's amazing." 


Sun Valley Middle School

Aubri Jean Falin Huntley

Telli Savalas Green  

Arianna Del Toro 

Simone Charay Neal

Tyler Alexander Ratley

 Zariah Serenity Harris


Porter Ridge Middle School

Blanca Izamal Cruz Nunez

Joselyn Díaz-Ortiz 

 Nelly Morales

 Millie Cabriales-luna

 Janesa Yolanda Cruz

 Candy Izabella Reyes Hernandez

 Alexis Iker Tovar

 Hailey Brooke Ahlgren

 Jah'Zell Wendell Arnold

 Brooklyn Skye Baskin