With a few short days and only a handful of students, Weber State University’s Education Access and Outreach Department saw huge success with their annual “Student 2 Student” Summer Summit this past week.
From learning about carnivorous plant biology to building scholarship resumes, students kicked off the four-day event at Weber State with various activities that gave high school seniors a taste of college.
“My favorite part was the classes and the new things that they had for us. It was just something new every day, and that was really cool,” said Floricela Anguiano, a student at Ogden High School, who was also recognized at the Summit for receiving a scholarship.
“This Summit allowed me to go around campus and meet people who also have college goals. It was just a really cool experience,” said Anguiano.
According to Shae Eason, a college outreach advisor, the Summit involved 20 underrepresented high school students, either from ethnic minorities or first-generation families, who were given the chance to learn about college preparation.
“Our mission is to increase the students’ knowledge about college. We want them to know that college is an option, regardless of your backgrounds and circumstances,” said Eason.
Underway for seven years, the Summer Summit’s main focus was to create pathways for students. However, according to Eason, this year’s primary emphasis was on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), a new component implemented last year.
“A lot of students shy away from those STEM fields,” said Eason. “So we wanted to expose them to STEM and all the things they could be interested in.”
With this new change, the Summit has broadened to the Summer Summit Leadership Institute where nine “Student 2 Student” mentors were also given the opportunity to practice their leadership skills.
“We really believe that the students have a lot of leadership and phenomenal potential to teach other students,” said Ruth Patino-Stubbs, Director of Education Access and Outreach, who pointed out the unique thing about this program is it’s student led.
Latrell Padmore, sophomore at Weber State, said that one of his roles as a mentor was to help students branch out and build connections, not just with other students, but with other valuable people and resources as well.
“Our job as advocates is to lead the students on the right path and give them the opportunities to open doors,” said Padmore.
For Eason, she hoped students will leave the Summit with a new sense of direction and reach back one day and help others just like they were helped.
“We’re building leaders here as well,” said Eason.
Along with all the activities, students were also introduced to Dr. Brian Hotchkins, professor at University of Utah, who talked about all the factors that go into being successful in college including critical thinking and exploring identities.
“The section that I do is talking about oneself and how your identities will navigate campus,” said Hotchkins.
Hotchkins also encouraged the students to confront sensitive topics such as race, gender and sexual orientation during his workshops, challenging them to reassess offensive terms and think responsibly.
“It is my overall mission to get students to look inward before they make the jump outward. So, we talk about issues that make students uncomfortable,” said Hotchkins.
The students also participated in group exercises where they had to interview people they thought they’d have the least in common with, forcing them to come out of their shells and be closer together.
For Eason, watching the students sacrifice a piece of their summer to interact with different people with common interests is her favorite part about being involved with the “Student 2 Student” program.
“I love seeing the kids come to campus and make friends,” said Eason. “We are a diverse group. And it’s one of our jobs to support them and take part in their growth.”