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University News

University Salutes Future College Graduates

Newark high school students earn college credits in academic and service program created in response to pandemic

Posted in: Homepage News, University

Nine students and their teacher show certificates.
High school students from Newark’s Arts High show their certificates after completing the Future College Graduate Institute.

Ahead of Commencement, Montclair State University hosted a celebration for future college graduates – high school students who have earned college credits as part of the Newark High School Dual Enrollment Program, an initiative that exposed the teens to the college experience and pushed and prepared them for what’s to come.

Developed in response to the pandemic, Montclair partnered with the Newark Board of Education on the grant-funded program, providing free tuition and digital backpacks, including laptops, for 200 Newark high school students. The program provided a variety of academic and co-curricular experiences, including community service projects benefiting the city of Newark and college access workshops on financial aid and the application process.

“I am very excited to witness our vision for the federal and state grant come together,” says Assistant Provost Daniel Jean, co-writer of the grant. “As a proud Newark native and alumnus of University High School it is very gratifying to witness my hometown scholars move closer to their professional aspirations.”

The students and their guests attended a special event on May 17, with the students posing on a red carpet and many showing commitment to higher education by wearing college apparel from the schools they will be attending.

This included future graduates of Montclair State University who look forward to starting school in the fall. “I believe that it will open up many opportunities for me to succeed,” says Hisshne Uthayasooriyan, a senior at Technology High School.

“While I know their college courses these past few semesters were no walk in the park, time and time again I was often shown how they were able to rise above and face their challenges head-on,” says Dual Enrollment Coordinator/Success Coach Jazmene Mosley.

Student in a red Future College Graduate sweatshirt stands on a red carpet.
The University rolled out the red carpet to celebrate the achievements of Newark students in the Future College Graduate Institute Dual Enrollment Program.
Adults engage with groups of students sitting at tables.
Keynote speaker was Gian Paul Gonzalez ’07 – a star athlete while at Montclair State University and current motivational speaker and founder of Hope + Future. Shown far right, he interacts with Newark students during the end of the year celebration.

Over the past three semesters, the students were able to earn 9-12 credits by attending college courses virtually on writing, public speaking, sociology and psychology.

Fundamentals of Speech Professor Laureen Lafever says the students challenged themselves with the college-level material. “My class is not an easy one, but these scholars stepped up and met the work with a fierce determination and intense dedication to get the job done well,” Lafever says. “The incredible attitude that they brought to every single class was an inspiration to me.”

The program also assisted students and encouraged them to use resources that are available to them, including tutors, peer mentors, faculty and success coaches. They will have automatic acceptance into one of Montclair’s Summer Bridge College Access Programs: Educational Opportunity Fund, Health Career Program, Academic Launch or University Summer Bridge.

“These supports gave students individuals who understand the college experience and the challenges that come with attending college so they would be ready to tackle them full time once the time comes for them to be on their own,” says Dual Enrollment Coordinator/Success Coach Marlise Silva.

Photo Gallery

A group of students and teachers sit in chairs turned toward front of room to listen to speaker.
Students from Arts High School, American History High School, East Side High School, Science Park High School, Technology High School, University High School, Weequahic High School and West Side High School took part in the Dual Enrollment Program.
seated adult attendees at future college graduate event
The students were joined on campus on May 17 by educators and friends and family who support their goals as Future College Graduates.
Three adults kneel and five adults stand.
Montclair staff, faculty and peer mentors joined in recognizing the achievements of the future graduates. Front row from left: Jazmene Mosley and Marlise Silva, Dual Enrollment coordinators/success coaches; and Adjunct Professor Laureen LeFever. Back row from left: Adjunct Professor David Chun, Writing Studies Instructional Specialist Shelagh Patterson, Joseph Tamarez; peer mentors Darielly Suriel and Alysia Stephens; and Assistant Provost Daniel Jean.
Gian Paul Gonzalez talks with a student.
Gian Paul Gonzalez ’07, left, encouraged students to be “all in” in their efforts to pursue higher education.
Four students sit on student center steps eating ice cream.
The high school students got a taste of what college life is like, including enjoying ice cream on the steps of the Student Center.

Story by Marilyn Joyce Lehren. Photos by John J. LaRosa.

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