Reaching Out, Reaching Up
For many Kent County high school students, the prospect of college—and the process involved in getting there—seems about the same as flying to the moon. But Washington College students and admissions staff, teaming up with a local grassroots group, are working to change that. The new partnership between Bayside H.O.Y.A.S. (Helping Our Youth Achieve Success) and WC is bringing tutoring, mentoring, and college prep to these students to help them change their ideas about what’s possible in terms of a future with college in it.
“Lots of local kids don’t feel college is attainable,” says John Queen, H.O.Y.A.S. co-founder and president. “If we can be the stepping stone, and they can begin to believe that Washington College and similar schools are attainable, this partnership helps us lay that foundation for kids to fill out apps and help them with the process of applying to college.”
Queen co-founded the group with brothers Paul and Pierre Tue in 2013 to give Kent County youth a positive outlet via athletic and academic programs with local community groups. The group connected with Sam Shoge, a WC admissions counselor and Chestertown councilman, at a community meeting. The College’s admissions team was keen to develop deeper ties to the community and through Shoge’s efforts has worked to offer a platform and resources for tutoring, mentoring, and a taste of the college experience.
“Towards the end of the fall semester the College began hosting tutoring sessions where one day a week, club members from the Black Student Union, Cleopatra’s Sisters, and the Asian Cultural Club worked with about 15 of their kids on campus, helping them through homework assignments,” Shoge says. “We plan on doing college counseling training with the founders so that they can continue to instill the importance of college and how to best prepare for it.”
Harold Braden ’16 first became involved with the partnership last fall as a member of the Black Student Union. He credits the tutoring sessions with changing his thinking about how current college students can help prepare the next generation.
“Education of our youth is vastly important,” Braden says. “This education should start early, and it is important for older students to help younger students in their communities build positive relationships.”
Queen says the partnership between the College and the Bayside H.O.Y.A.S. is only going to grow stronger as it expands into more offerings for the community. For instance, in April, WC’s women’s basketball coach Alisha Mosley offered the first basketball camp at the College for local high school girls.
“Washington College has been very open with the red carpet treatment,” Queen says. “Anything we need is just a matter of us sitting down and putting our heads together for what’s best for the community.”