More than 75 high school students spent two weeks on campus earlier this month as participants in the New Jersey SEEDS (Scholars, Educators, Excellence, Dedication and Success) College Preparatory Program. The rising sophomores, juniors and seniors participated in rigorous academics and leadership development and explored residential higher education while living on campus and taking meals in the dining hall. The time spent at HWS each summer helps prepare the students, all high-achieving and from low-income backgrounds, to leave home, live with other students, monitor their own study habits, take care of themselves, and use the available resources on a college campus.
“I always say that when you come to SEEDS, you’re basically a college student and you get to see how hard, or how easy, it can be,” says Brittany Beckley, a rising junior from Orange High School, adding, “SEEDS lets me develop and find myself more and discover myself in the world, and also distinguish who I am before I get to college and start making big decisions.”
The SEEDS students took advanced academic courses, many of which were taught by HWS faculty, as well as “Human Behavior,” a proprietary element of SEEDS’ curriculum, and one of four elective classes developed by NJ SEEDS.
They also receive information about the college application process, invaluable to the many who will likely be first-generation college students.
“I really needed someone to guide me to college, especially because I could be the first one from my family to go to college, and my family doesn’t know the process, which would only be harder for me to make it there on my own,” says Joselin Guerra, a rising senior at Trenton Central High School who was on campus for the second time with the SEEDS program.
She is currently working on her personal essay for college applications and has found the help and inspiration she needed from the summer writing course, as well as confidence. “When I leave, I know I’ll survive in college with the real work load,” she says.
Accompanying the students during the summer were student advisers, who serve “as a resident assistant in the residence halls, a teacher they can relate to during class, and a friend they can talk to anytime,” explains SEEDS alum and student adviser Teshawn Warren, a double major in public administration and criminal justice going into his junior year at Rutgers University. “I’m especially trying to get the kids acquainted with each other to be able to make relationships that last a lifetime. They’re not just a bunch of kids in the SEEDS program; they’re family.”
Warren chose to be an adviser for SEEDS to give back to the program, but also because he hoped to inspire current students to do the same when they graduate. It seems he has already had at least one success in that area.
Will Constant, a rising sophomore at Orange High School was on campus this summer for the first time with SEEDS and is already looking forward to next year – and maybe following in Warren’s footsteps. “This program is a definite head start for college and I can’t wait to come back next year and the years after to maybe help someone else who’ll be in my place now,” he says.
Many SEEDS students go on to enroll in some of the nation’s best colleges and universities, including Hobart and William Smith. There are three SEEDS alums currently attending Hobart and William Smith, and another will begin her first year this fall.