Geneva High School students visited Hobart and William Smith Colleges on March 27 as part of a Geneva 2020 program that provides an informative look at college life. The ninth graders spent the morning participating in sessions concerning the admissions process, financial aid and more. This was the fourth time students from this graduating class have visited campus. The goal of Geneva 2020 is to harness the resources within the entire Geneva community to provide assistance to increase graduation rates, career and college readiness and literacy. More than 50 HWS students assisted with the day as panelists, “lunch buddies,” and tour guides.
“The ninth-grade visit is just one of the ways we demonstrate our commitment to Geneva 2020,” says Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning. “Through participating in programs like this, the students can see what the future can hold for them if they continue to dream for themselves and work toward that dream.”
Friday’s event started with an introduction from Director of Admissions John Young and Director of Financial Aid Beth Nepa, followed by HWS students who shared their experiences, including internships and volunteer work. For example, Phoebe Moore ’16 talked about her work with Camp Good Days and Special Times, a camp for children affected by cancer, and how her experience has impacted her career path, as well as Maryum Raheem ’16, who discussed campus involvement and service-learning opportunities.
Before going on a campus tour, students participated in a session that was coordinated in conjunction with this year’s Community Read, which focused on how technology and literature can assist in students’ learning. Students discussed “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd and how their experience in map-making during the fall seminar complemented the course objectives. The ninth graders chose to read the book as part of their third-quarter reading selection through their English classes. The session included an audio clip of the book and a demonstration of how HWS students in Writing and Rhetoric Chair Margueritte Murphy’s First-Year Seminar “Writing the City” learned how to select scenes from the book and incorporate historic Charleston with present day Charlestown, the city where much of the book takes place.
The event concluded with a lunch where many HWS students, including Geneva High School alums such as Alison Switzer ’15 and Drew Feinberg ’17, engaged the students in conversations about their thoughts on the campus visit and college life.
“For some kids all it takes is one impactful experience to help them realize what they want to do after high school or in life in general,” says Switzer. “I wanted to have that opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Rooted in the collective impact model, Geneva 2020 works to ensure that all students in the community have the skills necessary to graduate from high school and to effectively pursue college. The alignment of initiatives already has helped move the high school graduation rate from 70 percent in 2010 to 82 percent in 2013, and to increase the number of local high school students entering college from 74 percent in 2009 to 76 percent in 2013. When a community comes together to support a single cause, the results can be truly transformative.
Geneva 2020 receives funding from The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, a Chicago-based philanthropic family foundation.