The thought of going to college can be especially intimidating for high school students who will become the first in their family to pursue higher education, but a federally-funded program is helping these students become more comfortable with campus life.
For the past six weeks, Joycelyn Hutton, 16, has been living on the campus of the University of Southern California.
“I have friends who don’t believe they can be here,” she said.
For Hutton, USC is only 15 minutes from her home, but in many ways it is a world away.
“You would classify them as disadvantaged, but they are bright, they’re smart and thriving and ready to learn,” said Theda Douglas, the executive director of USC’s Trio Program.
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She said the program is designed to motivate and support low-income students who will be the first in their families to attend college.
“There’s nothing preventing them now, it’s just go-go from them,” Douglas said.
As part of the program, inner city high school students live in USC dorms and take classes on campus during the summer session.
Of the students who complete the Trio Program, 95 percent go on to four year universities.
“A lot of students don’t have the opportunity to leave the four walls of their high school,” Hutton said.
David Gonzalez, a high school junior, said some of his friends asked him why he was wasting time during the summer when he could be out going places.
Gonzalez – who wants to go to law school and become a lawyer – said he has his parents’ goals firmly in mind.
“For my parents, education is number one. They’ve always pushed my education,” he said.
Both Hutton and Gonzalez said the USC program has challenged them, taken them out of their comfort zone and into the college mind set.