Division News & Statements

New campus office supports pre-college initiatives

October 26, 2017

(This story originally appeared on GVNow)

A new campus office, Pathways to College, has opened with goals to provide pre-college programming to underrepresented middle and high school students and inspire them to enroll in college.

Jose Contreras, a sophomore majoring in business, summarized the office's goals differently. "It's providing the support to help you to go from being led to being a leader," he said.

Contreras, from Holland, represents one example how the new office works. He began participating in the Wade H. McCree Jr. Incentive Program through Grand Valley's Office of Multicultural Affairs as an eighth-grade student. The statewide program hosts workshops on college preparedness for students in eighth-12th grade.

Contreras and his family moved to Holland from Mexico when he was 6; one of his middle school teachers suggested he apply to the McCree program. 

"Once we got into high school, we had to maintain a certain GPA to remain in the program," he said. "There were overnight stays at Grand Valley, which made me feel comfortable on campus."

When he arrived at Grand Valley in 2016 as a first-year student, Contreras participated in Laker Familia, an orientation to welcome Latino students and their families to campus. In August, he was a Laker Familia mentor, helping others with their transition to campus life.

Pathways to College houses the McCree program and Michigan GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs). Pathways Director Bobby Springer said the new office will expand on pre-college preparedness work and engage with schools within and outside of West Michigan.

"These programs definitely help school counselors and teachers who can't get to everyone," Springer said. "Without these programs, there would be holes and gaps and students wouldn't get the information they need."

Nyasia Montgomery, a first-year student from Grand Rapids, started in the GEAR UP program as a seventh-grader at Harrison Park Middle School and continued while she attended Union High School.

"I didn't want to go to college but belonging to GEAR UP changed my viewpoint," Montgomery said. "I was able to get the feel of college, to know how to schedule classes and to understand financial aid. It made me actually want to go, it opened up my mind."

Montgomery and other GEAR UP participants took summer trips throughout high school that involved a mix of sightseeing and touring colleges. In July, she was one of six students from Grand Rapids Public Schools selected to travel to California for the national GEAR UP conference.

Enrolling at Grand Valley, she said, was a relatively easy decision. "I felt connected with the campus, felt at home here. I knew during my junior year that I wanted to come to Grand Valley," Montgomery said.

Housed in the Division of Inclusion and Equity, the Pathways to College website is gvsu.edu/pathways.

For More Information Contact: Michele Coffill in University Communications - 616-331-2221

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Page last modified October 26, 2017