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Students from Shawmont School, only a few miles west of La Salle University, gathered Dec. 6 in the University’s Dan Rodden Theater.
The students were learning about the college experience—applying for scholarships, studying for tests, registering for classes, eating in dining halls, and living in residence halls. A La Salle student asked whether the Shawmont third-graders had any questions.
Twelve of the 19 students from Shawmont School raised their hands.
“There is a lot of excitement in this group!” said Claire Crosby, a junior nursing major in La Salle’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences. “That’s so great to see.”
Their day-long trip was part of Junior Achievement of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Step to Success program, which develops a foundation of college aspiration for elementary school children. La Salle has partnered with Junior Achievement’s Step to Success Program and the School District of Philadelphia each of the last five years. The participating students attend one of five Northwest Philadelphia schools: Fitler Academics Plus School, Hopkinson School, Howe Academic Plus School, Pennell School, or Shawmont.
For many of the more than 300 elementary school students at La Salle, including those from Shawmont, their visit represented their first experience on a college campus.
Cathey White, Chief Academic Officer for the School District of Philadelphia, greeted the students in Rodden Theater, along with the La Salle Explorer mascot, before embarking on their campus tours. Guided by La Salle students, tours took the school children to the University’s newly renovated Connelly Library; the competitive swimming pool in TruMark Financial Center; multiple innovation and collaborative learning spaces; and the La Salle University Art Museum.
“This experience is priceless,” said Teresa Coyle, a third-grade teacher from Shawmont. “I’ve heard several students say, ‘My uncle goes to college,’ or ‘My mom is in college.’ Others have never known anyone to attend or graduate from college. This is their first exposure to this, and that’s very special.”
The Junior Achievement Step to Success program strives to change the way Philadelphia students think about their postsecondary futures. Founded in 1919, Junior Achievement USA reaches more than 4.4 million students per year in 190,075 classrooms and after-school locations. Its programs are taught by volunteers in inner cities, suburbs, and rural areas throughout the U.S., by 118 area offices in all 50 states.
“This year, our junior Explorers learned from students, volunteers, and alumni about campus life and what it’s like to be a college student,” said Trey Ulrich, La Salle’s Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations. “We are always excited to have them here at La Salle, and we can’t wait to have them back on campus again next year.”
—Christopher A. Vito