Macon County high school juniors and seniors, many of whom are fulfilling requirements for Bridge Builders Alabama, meet every other Thursday night at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church on Highway 81 between Notasulga and Tuskegee. Auburn University undergraduates work alongside them, as they develop skills related to life, work, and college. The program is funded in part by the Appalachian Regional Commission
Tonight we had three special guests with us to talk about the college admissions process for community colleges and universities. Brandon, an admissions counselor for Southern Union State Community College in Opelika discussed programs offered by SUSCC. Brandon is an Auburn University graduate, and he enjoys talking to young people about the benefits of a college education. SUSCC’s academic and career tracks meet the needs of all students and the campus provides a welcoming atmosphere beyond high school.
Suzanne Cade, an admissions counselor at Tuskegee University, shares the same high school, Booker T. Washington in Tuskegee, as many of our students. After graduating from Tuskegee University and earning an additional degree at Harvard University, she returned to her alma mater to help another generation of students become graduates. Suzanne also spent a semester of college studying abroad with a program called Semester at Sea, where students from many different universities spend a semester taking class on a ship and visiting different countries. She encouraged our students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities. She also encouraged our students to do the best in their classes and on the ACT, but reminded them that their grades and scores do not define them. She encouraged all of us to “be your own dictionary and define yourself.”
TU graduate Deveenier Brooks joined Suzanne to discuss his experience coming to Alabama from his home state of California. He talked about what drew him to Tuskegee University, as well as his future career plans. Following these conversations, Beth divided our students into groups, and she posed a sample college entrance essay question: “If we could only admit one more student to our university, why should it be you?” Our guests graciously joined a group and challenged the group to write essays that were thoughtful, unique, a composite of everyone’s experiences, and compelling. Each group then presented their outline and first paragraph to everyone.
We are thankful for guests like Brandon, Suzanne, and Deveenier, who took time out of their busy schedules to share, listen, and encourage students on an important, life-shaping topic.