College Day in the Delta
Tyrese Sutton understands that life is full of mistakes. Making them is easy, he explained. Overcoming them requires an ability that many people lack.
“The ability to listen. The ability to hear what your teacher is telling you in high school and learning by your mistakes,” said the 17-year-old senior from Simmons Junior-Senior High School in Hollandale. “If you are willing to listen, you can overcome those mistakes a lot easier in the future.”
Tyrese, who plans to become an oral surgeon, was all ears in September at a College Day event sponsored by Delta Health Alliance and its College Promise Initiative at the Capps Center. About 80 high school students from Washington and Sunflower counties came together to better prepare for college.
“I told them that a college education is the first step to fulfilling their destiny,” said Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons, who opened the day with remarks to the group. “I talked about all the people who could have given up, but instead changed the world. When you’re from the Delta, programs like this can inspire and enlighten. It teaches them to live their dream.”
From financial aid and scholarships to preparation for college entrance exams such as the ACT, the students gained knowledge that will assist them as they transition to the collegiate level.
“My wonderful school counselor told us how great this would be to learn about college,” said Devin Johnson, 15, a 10th grader at Simmons Junior-Senior High. “I want to know the things I need to do to get ready for college. College aid is very important to me.”
A panel comprised of educators and specialists involved with young people discussed the challenges of transitioning from high school to college; parental support; college assistance; and their own experiences to give the students an idea about life after high school.
Raven Davis, 16, said the event gave her taste of the years ahead.
“I feel like this program is going to help me with the work I need to do to take the next step,” said the 11th grader from Hollandale, who is looking to major in educational administration in college.
“I love children and I’d like to become a school principal,” said Raven. “But first I have to do the work to get to college. I’m learning how to prepare for the ACT and what I need to aim for to get into these schools. And also what scholarship opportunities are out there.”
Caleb Herod, a program director for DHA, said events such as College Day “gives these kids the tools to get prepared for college and shows them what to do, what they need and what to expect once they’re in school.”
Students heard real life experiences from college students such as Jarrius Adams, a junior at the University of Mississippi who talked about making the best use of their time and the best ways to succeed in finding the financial resources to get to college.
“The money is out there, but it isn’t going to come to you,” Jarrius said. “You have to go after it. Don’t wait around. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. If you want it bad enough, you will make it happen.”