This summer, 20 rising juniors and seniors from Geneva High School enjoyed their first college experience through a program sponsored by Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The HWS Summer Academy is a two-week enrichment program for teens who are motivated and promising but facing barriers to college.
This year marked the Summer Academy’s 13th year of providing skills and training for college success. To get a sense of college-level classes, participants took classes with HWS professors. Just as important, they learned about the Common Application, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and the admissions and financial aid process. They also received tips on writing a strong resume. Students also took a field trip to SUNY Oswego and participated in mock job interviews with local community members.
The two-week schedule was mapped so that the students learned through classes in practical skills such as note taking, study tips and personal empowerment interspersed with more academic material, and plenty of hands-on opportunities throughout.
Teachers in the Academy came from across the HWS community and included Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residential Education Brandon Barile, Academy intern Rebecca Czajkowski ’18, Associate Professor of Chemistry Christine de Denus, Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture Gabriella D’Angelo, Professor of Dance Donna Davenport and Director of Elementary Education/Coordinator of Student Supervision Jennifer Harris.
The class de Denus taught was focused on chemistry and forensics. “We discussed crime scenes, types of fingerprints, and how to dust and collect them,” she says. “Students practiced techniques and tried to identify what types of fingerprint patterns they each have. We also spent some time discussing oxidation and reduction reactions and then performed some experiments outside. “
Shayne Feinberg, program coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning and coordinator of the Summer Academy, hopes that de Denus’ class and the program have a lasting impact on students. “The opportunity to work with so many faculty and staff on the collective goals of HWS Summer Academy and Geneva2020 for another year will no doubt have positive impacts on the futures of each student,” she says.
Another of the Academy’s highlights were the mock interview sessions, where students faced what was perhaps their first formal interview. “Interviewers asked the students similar questions and reviewed rubrics to help the students see their areas of strengths and gave pointers to make them more successful for future interviews,” says Feinberg. “The investment in the youth of Geneva was tangible with the cohort of engaged community members who showed up to provide support and feedback.”
Summer Academy is part of Geneva 2020, a broad, community wide effort to increase graduation rates, improve literacy, boost college and career readiness, and ensure every child enters school ready to learn.