UGA-Dreamers partnership brings middle school students to campus

UGA-Dreamers partnership brings middle school students to campus

Athens, Ga. – A newly extended partnership between the University of Georgia and the Greensboro Georgia Dreamers will bring 32 middle school students to campus June 25-29 to learn about higher education through hands-on experience.

Rising eighth graders from Carson Middle School in Greene County will sleep in residence halls at the university and spend their days touring campus, meeting with academic counselors and learning about opportunities for students at UGA.

“We are excited about our extended partnership with the Greensboro Dreamers Program,” said Cheryl Dozier, associate provost for institutional diversity at UGA. “These young people are at the right age to be greatly impacted by their week on campus, and our hope is that it will expose them to future educational and career opportunities.”

The university has been involved with the program on a less formal basis for six years, sending 12-15 students from the Black Educational Support Team, an African-American student group dedicated to helping recruit and retain students from historically under-represented groups for UGA, to the middle school every week to provide homework assistance, improve reading skills, run test prep sessions and offer college readiness workshops.

“Now that the students are coming to campus, many of the different schools and colleges, like the Terry College of Business, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Public and International Affairs, are involved. It’s a great early recruitment program,” said Mimi Sodhi, assistant provost for institutional diversity at UGA.

The early recruitment element is a keystone to the partnership, said Beth Thomas, director of the Greensboro Dreamers Program. Because the program is primarily composed of minority students, it’s a good way for UGA to build a diverse recruiting base for future years, she said.

The partnership between UGA and the Dreamers Program broadened in March, when members of the program met with UGA President Michael F. Adams and other university officials and decided to launch a pilot program for minority student recruitment, Thomas said.

“The primary goal for the Dreamers is that every child will be the best that he or she can be and for many of those children, getting a four-year college degree and moving on from there is something we strongly wish for,” she said.

The Greensboro Dreamers Program has followed the students since August 2000. It began as the first rural chapter of the national “I Have A Dream” Foundation, and has been profiled on 60 Minutes and featured in Time and People magazines.

The partnership also cements ties between the university and Greene County Schools through the next five years. UGA staffers plan to meet with school officials to assess curriculum and provide information about what scholarships are available to high-achieving students.

In exchange for participating in the program, each child involved is guaranteed tuition for college, should they be accepted and choose to attend. The tuition assistance is possible through funds raised by the Dreamers Programs. In the event that a student decides to go to vocational school instead of college, that tuition is also covered, Thomas said.