For three weeks this summer, 30 high school juniors are visiting the Hobart and William Smith campus to plant the “SEEDS” of their higher education.
As part of the newest program offered by New Jersey SEEDS (Scholars, Educators, Excellence, Dedication, Success), each morning between July 6 and July 17, these high school students work with and shadow campus employees in 15 offices. In the afternoon, the students attend classes taught by SEEDS academic year teachers, and take additional elective courses with faculty.
SEEDS is an academic enrichment and leadership development program for motivated, high-achieving, low-income youth. NJ SEEDS seeks to prepare qualified students for placement at top schools and to empower students to live lives of leadership, professional accomplishment and service to the community.
“This is SEEDS’ second year at HWS; everything was great last year, and the thought this year was to integrate further between the program and the Colleges,” says Tarah Greenidge, director of the college preparatory program at SEEDS.
The SEEDS College Preparatory Program, which is in its inaugural year, prepares students for admission to selective four-year colleges. The program includes weekend and summer honors classes, cultural enrichment and assistance with the college admissions and financial aid process. Students were recruited in eighth grade from two New Jersey school districts, Englewood and Orange. Fifteen students were chosen from each district, based on the quality of their applications and their financial need, to participate in the SEEDS College Preparatory Program and get a peek at what college courses are like.
This summer at HWS, the SEEDS students are also able to shadow employees at offices around campus, from Buildings & Grounds and Information Technology, to the Salisbury Center for Career Services and the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.
“To have that integration between SEEDS and the Colleges, the idea was to get the work-study shadowing program off the ground,” Greenidge says. “In New Jersey, the students attend Saturday academy classes, which focus on language arts, writing, math and science; they take field trips to plays and museums and tour colleges. But before we started the college prep program, we thought that there were still more students we could serve and more we could do for them.”
“These opportunities are fantastic,” says Michael Hoepp ’05, of the President’s Office and liaison between SEEDS and HWS. “SEEDS is doing some incredibly important, long-term work with these students, who otherwise might not have some of these opportunities. The Colleges are thrilled to be a part of it.”
HWS Trustee J. Paul Hellstrom Jr. ’64, through his longtime support and advocacy for NJ SEEDS, is a large part of the success of its programs. He was a major force in bringing SEEDS and HWS together, a union that, as Greenidge says, “has been amazing. Last year was incredible, and the feedback so far from students this year has been really amazing.”
“It’s a terrific program,” Hoepp says, “mutually beneficial for the students and for the Colleges.”