Skip to main content

How I was changed by my Spring Break Trip

Over the 2017 Spring Break Gary Comer College Prep Middle School (GCMS), a campus of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, took nearly fifty 8th grade scholars, two parents, and four staff members on a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities including Central State University, Wilberforce University, Howard University, Norfolk State University, and Hampton University. This first-time trip for GCMS took place over a four day period where scholars and staff toured the schools and explored Washington DC. This trip was a labor of love by our Assistant Dean of Operations and 8th grade advisor, Ms. Kimesha Hampton.

Our scholars were incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to take this trip. One student, Jevaise said, “Just being able to leave my home and travel was life changing. College experiences are always influential, but to tour HBCUs was perfect.” Many of our scholars had no previous knowledge of HBCUs and this trip got them interested in learning more or potentially applying in the future. “Before the trip I didn’t know a lot about HBCU’s, I only knew it stood for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and created by black people. What I learned has made me think about applying to HBCUs in the future.” said one scholar. Another student, Leilani, had this to say about the trip, “It was a very exciting, engaging, and eye-opening experience. These schools have such a rich history behind them and it was an honor to have the opportunity to tour these schools.”

While our scholars enjoyed seeing the different schools the two that stuck out most were Howard University and Hampton University. On Howard’s campus instead of a traditional tour we were able to complete a scavenger hunt. This provided a unique experience as stated by one scholar, “Howard allowed us to collaborate with college students, but also learn about their school in a fun and interesting way.” Our students enjoyed getting to talk to current Howard students, and felt like they got a true sense of what college could be like for them. At Hampton University we attended their Day of Giving campaign event and were treated to a DJ in the student center, cheerleaders, and their mascot. The students’ favorite part was the sorority strolls and fraternity step show. Many students mentioned how beautiful Norfolk State University was and their impressive African-American Art museum. One scholar learned an important lesson about college at NSU, “Norfolk University taught me that just because a college is not as well-known and talked about does not mean that it is a bad school or that it should not be an option.”

The goal of the trip was to help scholars make connections between what they have learned about college and the reality of college. As Janiyah said, “Before the trip I was closed-minded. I learned new things about sororities, different degrees, picking majors, scholarships and I know about what to look for in a college. One thing that surprised me, was when you are pledging a sorority they take your grades and behavior into account… I learned there are people on campus to help you decide what to major in and you don’t have to know right away.” For Keme, the importance of starting high school right hit home. “One tour guide explained to us that we need to take our freshman year seriously and that the years before your senior year matter most. She also said that all advanced classes are good, but passing is better than taking an honor class and doing poorly.”

Our scholars came back from the trip with a renewed sense of determination about their futures. Kevin reflected, “College can be hard but, you just have to have grit and perseverance. Things in college can be good and bad, it’s just how you handle it.” This experience taught Adia that you always have to be dedicated and give your all in order to achieve your goals”. Marshea is a student who struggled in previous years and this trip made a difference for her. “I felt like this was a great chance to look at not only colleges, but black colleges. The trip has given me more goals to get far in life.”

Our scholars had a life changing time this Spring Break. This trip not only allowed them to bond with each other it also helped show them the possibilities for their future. “Overall, the HBCU tour made me look forward to college. I learned so much from the tours and I really enjoyed myself. Most importantly, I feel like I came back with more knowledge than I left with” said Leilani. Jeremiah expressed his gratitude for this opportunity by saying “This HBCU trip helped me get a better feel of how college is going to be and why I should go. I am extremely grateful for my teachers and my advisor, taking the time out of their Spring Break to take us on a college trip out of the state.” As a staff, we thank our scholars, their families, and administration for making this trip a reality.

Keywords: college, education, HBCU, Middle School, school trips, spring break

Posted in Education Initiatives