The first ever Mansfield University Summer Leadership Academy, held July 15-19, was a success according to Susan Sweet, director of the Center for Lifelong Learning at MU, who oversaw the program.
Twenty ninth grade students from the Elmira City School District spent four days on the MU campus, learning about a wide range of topics from MU faculty, coaches, staff and students. Classes and presentations were held on topics ranging from anthropology to social work and from critical thinking to effective communication.
“I continue to receive rave reviews and positive feedback from the students, their parents and the school district,” Sweet said. “Students were thrilled that they were on a college campus and they had dinner with the President. Many wonderful memories were created through this program along with the opportunity to learn and expand their horizons. Students can begin to see themselves in college, dreams can become reality if you have a dream that you hold and keep foremost in your mind.”
Sweet credits Elmira Superintendent Raymond Bryant with providing the impetus for the Academy. “He really wants his students to realize that college is within their grasp if they make the effort and open their eyes to the possibilities,” she said.
“For many students in Elmira going to the ‘hill’ represents going to the Elmira Prison,” Bryant said. “We want our students to know and see themselves on other hills-- Mansfield University, Corning Community College or Cornell University. All great hills to be on. We wanted to tap the leadership skills of these students even if at time they used the skills to lead in a wrong direction. We wanted to have the students see themselves as college capable, to understand that college gives them even more choices in life and that it is absolutely possible.”
The academy concluded with a banquet attended by the students, their families, Mansfield officials and staff and representatives of the Elmira City School District. The student’s projects, capturing what they had learned during the week, were on display at the banquet.
“We wanted the student’s parents to have the same vision and expectation,” Bryant said. “Thus the purpose of the banquet and report out. We also do not want this to be an isolated event, but rather the beginning of a four-year process and collaboration with Mansfield University to support these students on to high school graduation and college acceptance.”
“Two student speakers at the banquet, illuminated their week indicating that the topics they loved included forensics and nursing demonstrations, where ‘we had the chance to do some really cool stuff,’” Sweet added. “One parent wrote,’ This is a most marvelous activity in introducing these full freshmen to a taste of college life.’”
Sweet says that plans for the 2008 Summer Leadership Academy are already underway.
For more on the leadership program and opportunities at Mansfield University, click here.
For more on the MU Center for Lifelong Learning and its programs click here.