St Johns Residential Summer Camp
St. John's University NYGEAR UP
Ready, Set, Go!
Residential Summer Camp
For the first time its program history, St. John's University (SJU) NYGEAR UP hosted a residential college weekend for middle school students and their parents. During the weekend of June 27th-28th, 55 students and 25 parents checked into the suite-style Hollis Residence Hall where they’d be residing overnight as part of our mission to provide them with a true college experience. Students and parents hailed from various NYGEAR UP Partnerships including St. John's University GEAR UP/ NY GEARUP partnership schools in Astoria, New York, Yonkers Public Schools, and Nassau Community College.
The experience kicked off with a warm welcome address from Dr. Andre Mckenzie, Vice President of Academic Support Services. He expressed his appreciation for their participation in the program and encouraged them to pursue higher education. Following his address, Dr. Yvette Morgan, Director of NYGEAR UP provided an overview of the camp experience before sending them off to enjoy the many informative and motivating workshops and activities designed to empower them to begin preparing for college.
Following a delicious lunch and tour of the campus, students and parents parted ways for their separate schedule of workshops, facilitated by the SJU NYGEAR UP staff. Each attendee received a folder containing materials necessary for full participation in the workshops, as well as resources to aid in planning for higher education and financial aid resources. Student workshops included "Transitioning to High School", "Improving Your Study Skills", a panel discussion regarding "Getting Into and Surviving College" hosted by GEAR UP alumni who successfully completed the program, and an opportunity for them to take a Learning Styles and Career Assessment.
Parents followed a similar schedule, attending workshops such as: Educational Resources for Families, Preparing for College Starting Now, Financing a Post-Secondary Education, and Helping Your Child Become Successful in School and Life. To ensure all parents were engaged, each session was facilitated in both Spanish and English.
During dinner, a panel of 8 former SJU GEAR UP Scholars from the class of 2011 and 2014 provided testimonials on their experience in high school, college, and beyond. The day ended with the fiercely competitive Brain Challenge Game Show held in Marillac Auditorium, where boys and girls went head to head in a battle that tested their knowledge in all academic disciplines. It was a close game, but ultimately the boys prevailed, much to the disappointment of the girls’ team! After some closing remarks by Dr. Morgan, students, parents, and staff retreated to the dorms for a well-deserved rest.
The second day of camp began bright and early at 7:30 AM, when students and parents enjoyed breakfast before being introduced to the dynamic character that is Darrell “Coach D” Andrews. Although the main session of the day flew by, Coach D, a recognized Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, spent over two hours engaging attendees in his “Attitude of a Champion” motivational speech! He guided students and parents through “passion mapping” and ultimately gave each student a copy of one of his renowned books, The Purpose Living Teen: A Guide to Living Your Dreams. A quick session was spent on reflective writing and evaluations that would improve the quality of the camp, and in the blink of an eye it was time for final comments. In true GEAR UP style, each participant received a certificate of participation and NYGEAR UP t-shirt as a token of appreciation.
The feedback received spoke volumes about the quality and purpose of the experience for both students and parents. “This experience made me think more about my education, future and how I plan to plan my future. Now I know that it’s okay to work with other people and receive help from others. I appreciate St. Johns for helping me realize that,” shared seventh grader, Keisy Acosta. Parent Ivonne Valle also shared similar sentiments by saying, “My experience at St John’s University this weekend was amazing. My daughter and I learned so much. My daughter had a great time listening to the speakers. She told me how motivated she felt to do better things in life. It felt great to be around so many positive people. This program should be done more often, and I look forward to attending St John’s University with my daughter in the future. Keep up the great work!”
St. John's University NYGEAR UP thanks NYS Higher Education for providing this experience for the NYGEAR UP students and parents across the state of New York.