by Lesly Luna
On Friday, October 2, Salem’s Student Leadership Connection (SLC) members hosted 22 fifth grade students from Konnoak Elementary located in south Winston-Salem. The initiative was set out in order for these young girls from underrepresented backgrounds to be exposed to the possibility of a four-year university. During their visit, the SLC members took the Konnoak students on a tour of the campus. Reinforced by interactive experiences, the visit and activities continuously emphasized the importance of higher education.
The students began their day designing their own proposed university with specific colors and mascots (many of which were unicorns), along with majors and clubs they wanted their imagined institutions to offer. Salem students then addressed the young girls’ questions about going to college and reassured them of the countless reasons why attending college is not only something to look forward to, but also invaluable in worth. It was also pointed out that every SLC member and college student here at Salem was a fifth-grader not long ago; and in the near future, they themselves will be taking the first step to reaching their career goals. Finally, the overjoyed students got the opportunity to tour the school’s classrooms and dormitories, meeting professors, students and even the beloved Sister Maus along the way.
Upon interacting first-hand with the students, I was personally excited to know that the majority of the young girls expressed that their favorite subjects were math and science, and a lot of their preferred careers reflected such. College-readiness efforts are often introduced in middle and high-school but the benefit of reinforcing the concept during earlier development was evident during the visit. SLC advisor Monica Boyd underlined the importance of exposing younger students to higher education, an effort which “plants the seed as they envision themselves early on, seeing that attending college is not only beneficial, but also very attainable.” The group continues with plans of doing more to emphasize the importance and value of a higher education to young students and their parents in the upcoming months.