The sign that welcomed high school seniors as they stepped off the buses set the mood for the morning. It read “Welcome Future Panthers.”
Letting students know that college absolutely can be in their future was an important message for over 300 high schools seniors who attended the first Florida International University (FIU) “Are You Ready? Summit” in December 2010. Most students at the campus event—from Booker T. Washington Senior, Miami Jackson Senior, Miami Northwestern Senior, North Miami Beach Senior, South Dade Senior and William H. Turner Technical Arts High Schools—would be first generation college students in their families.
The summit was organized by the Dean’s Alumni Circle at FIU’s College of Business Administration. Two organizations, College Summit Florida and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, sent students to the event.
The morning started with spirited welcomes from Roary, the FIU mascot, and the Golden Dazzlers dance team. Joyce J. Elam, executive dean of the College of Business Administration, gave motivational words of encouragement to the enthusiastic group of attendees.
“Next came panel discussions, chaired by alumni, giving students information about college life, the admissions process and financial aid,” said Margaret Brisbane (BBA ’80), chair of the Alumni Circle Community Service committee.
“We let the students know the importance of a college education, and how studying should take precedence,” said panelist Alvin Naterpaul (EMBA ’10). “I told them I came from where they are, and know what it’s like to be a first generation ‘everything’ in a family.”
The high schoolers also took campus tours, enjoyed both breakfast and lunch on campus, and were able to talk to people from the business school and other academic departments at FIU.
FIU and College Summit plan to work together again.
“The event was phenomenal and it represents a reconnection of FIU and College Summit,” Brisbane said. “We hope to have even more involvement with College Summit in the future, including additional ‘Are You Ready? Summits.’”
College Summit is a national group nonprofit organization that partners with schools and districts to strengthen a college-going culture and increase college enrollment rates.