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Program Exposes Underprivileged Kids To College Life

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By Sanaz Meshkinpour

45 Ward 8 middle school students went to college this week to get a taste of what the future can hold.

Brooke Shelton-Epps, along with her classmates, spent three days and nights at Penn State University, sleeping in dorms and going to class. She had a lot of fun but she knows it’s not going to be easy.

"I learned that you should always be focused because college is not a joke," says Shelton-Epps.

Shelton-Epps is in Higher Achievement. The program puts underprivileged kids on the fast track to college prep high schools. Nine out of ten alumni end up with a bachelor’s degree.

Executive Director Lynsey Wood Jeffries says this is a big deal in Ward 8, where only 8 percent of the population has a college degree. She says sending 6th graders to Penn State gets them motivated.

"That early exposure will make college a tangible reality for them so that they will not only go to college but graduate from college," says Wood Jeffries.

As for Shelton-Epps, she’s planning on majoring in science and dance.


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