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Student-led Program gives at-risk Youth Confidence to Attend College

January 27, 2016

LANSING, MICH. - Two Lansing Community College (LCC) students are helping to lead a program that shows middle and high-schoolers the value of higher education.

LCC Sophomores Kristina Pierson and Kylie Bates will present an overview of College 101: Combining Passion and Education at the Michigan Career Education Conference in Grand Rapids on February 2. Accompanied by LCC Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Paul Hernandez, the two will apply their leadership talents in describing how a one-day, specially tailored experience paves new roads toward success for at-risk students.

"I always planned on going to college but watched friends struggle through high school," says Pierson whose is on track to transfer to a four-year institution. "I want to reassure students that college is very different from K-12 education and encourage them to be a part of it."

Bates remembers her high school years in Sebewaing, Mich., and how she never wanted to set foot in a classroom again, let alone go to college.

"School didn't come easy for me," says Bates who is studying to be an accountant. "I'm involved in College 101 because I want students to see that they're not the only ones wondering if they have the ability to go to college."

Pierson and Bates volunteered to help launch the College 101 program after hearing about it through their work with the LCC Student Advisory Committee. Hernandez had attended one of their meetings to describe the program he had created six years ago at Central Michigan University. When he asked for volunteers to help bring College 101 to LCC, he says lots of hands shot up, including those of Pierson and Bates.

"Students at LCC jumped on the idea immediately," Hernandez says. "Kristina and Kylie are part of a larger student committee that will help shape LCC's program, train other student volunteers, and eventually create a transformative experience for middle and high school students."

College 101 is a one-day event driven by trained college positive volunteers who help at-risk students visualize the benefits of higher education. Hernandez developed the program based on his own experiences as an at-risk student in Los Angeles.

"High school was not in the picture for me, let alone college," Hernandez says. "My future was the streets, prison, or death. I created this program out of a strong moral obligation. I'm huge on making sure that education isn't just about showing up—it's about connecting students with their passions and helping to shape careers."

LCC faculty are getting involved in the program by offering College 101 as a service-learning project. Students enrolled in those courses will receive credit as part of the curriculum.

LCC's first College 101 event will take place in early March at LCC's West Campus, and will welcome students from Grand Ledge and Eaton Rapids High Schools.

About Lansing Community College

Lansing Community College is Michigan's third largest community college with approximately 15,000 students attending each year. LCC offers courses in general education for those interested in transferring to a four-year institution, career and workforce development, developmental education, and personal enrichment. To meet the professional development and training needs of regional employees, the college offers customized programs for credit, non-credit, and continuing education. The University Center at LCC offers students the opportunity to earn bachelor's and master's degrees from six partner universities on the downtown LCC campus. For more information, visit lcc.edu.

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