Challenge Scholars experience college life

A photo of students participating in small group discussion during a class.
Queanna Jackson and her classmates participate in a small group discussion during a class.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski
Students attended a class that was led by Andrea Riley-Mukavetz, assistant professor of liberal studies.
Students attended a class that was led by Andrea Riley-Mukavetz, assistant professor of liberal studies.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski
A group of students talking.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski
A group of students talking.
Image Credit: Valerie Wojciechowski

Eleventh graders from Union High School in Grand Rapids got a glimpse into the life of a college student when they attended a new summer camp in June at Grand Valley.

The students are members of the first cohort of Challenge Scholars, a program established in 2012 to prepare, encourage and provide resources for Grand Rapids Public Schools students to attend college. The program is facilitated by Grand Rapids Community Foundation with support from area colleges, including Grand Valley.  

During the camp, about 23 students lived the life of a Grand Valley student by attending classes, exercising at the Rec Center and staying in a living center. 

Tatianna Servantes said the experience made her excited to attend college. She plans to major in graphic design or psychology. 

"I want to stay in Michigan after high school, and I'm leaning toward attending Grand Valley," she said. "I really like it here. I've enjoyed experiencing college life and learned a lot about how to prepare for college." 

Queanna Jackson, who wants to become an actress or medical professional, said she plans to transfer to Grand Valley after attending Grand Rapids Community College for a few years.

The camp, organized by Grand Valley's Pathways to College Office, took place June 12-14. 

Bobby Jo Springer, director of Pathways to College, said students left the camp feeling motivated to attend college. 

"That's the goal," he said. "We want these students to be able to dive into college life and leave knowing the possibilities and support that Grand Valley has to offer." 

The Challenge Scholars program begins with sixth-grade students at Harrison Park School and Westwood Middle School. Students who complete program requirements and graduate from Union High School receive a Last Dollars scholarship from Grand Rapids Community Foundation. In 2013, Grand Valley partnered with GRCF to create a new scholarship for GRPS students, offering them the opportunity to attend and succeed in college. 

Learn more about Challenge Scholars at www.challengescholars.org