For the third time, the GEAR UP Mississippi program was hosted by Alcorn State University to provide high school students with stimulating and rigorous learning opportunities.
This year’s New Millennium Social Science Summer Academy offered a summer enrichment experience to 37 rising 10th graders currently attending an approved GEAR UP high school in Mississippi. From June 12th through 22nd, 2011, this academy focused on U.S. history and civil/human rights. Upon fulfilling the program, students are expected to understand how the Civil Rights Movement produced social and political change in the United States and the impact of the civil rights struggles of African Americans on other groups like feminists, Native Americans, Hispanics, immigrant groups, and individuals with disabilities.
“We were fortunate to have U.S. history and Civil Rights Movement as focus areas for our academy because there is a great need for all Mississippians, particularly the youth, to learn about the social, economic, and political changes that have taken place in our nation over the past half century,” stated Dr. Edward Vaughn, director for the Newtie J. Boyd Academic Student Support Center, who spearheaded the program. “Many of today’s students are not aware of the critical role that Mississippians and the state of Mississippi itself played in that process.”
Academy activities included lectures, film study, readings, class discussions and reflective writing, field trips and enrichment trips to broaden their life experiences. The Academy also included career and personal interest exploration, personal strengths assessment, college success and exposure to admissions and financial aid planning.
On the last day of the academy, a closing ceremony for the students, their families and the program staff was held in the Gold Room of the Clinton Bristow Dining Hall. Students and counselors shared their experiences during the program.
“I really enjoyed the academy at Alcorn and would like to come back next year,” shared Oaces Walton of Morton High School. Pashance Lee of Magee High School agreed with her friend and added, “And I am going to apply to Alcorn when I graduate!”
“We learned a lot about Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks and other heroes of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Demond Clark of South Leek High School. “We also enjoyed experiencing college life – we stayed in student dorms, ate in the cafeteria, and made new friends with students and counselors.”
“It was a great experience working with high school students of the GEAR UP program,” said Marcus Mercy, junior majoring in vocal performance at Alcorn. “It is all about making a difference in a child’s life.”
Pictured: Academy participants cheer for their counselor Marcus Mercy (not pictured) during his speech at the closing program.