Lisbeth is a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, and has been in the FLOC Scholars program since the beginning of her junior year.
This fall she will be a freshman at George Mason University, her top choice, where she plans to major in Government and International Politics.
Each FLOC senior is matched with a postsecondary coach who guides them through the college application process. Lisbeth and her coach Jazmin are certainly a great match! “I think FLOC did a great job pairing us,” Lisbeth said smiling. “Jazmin and I have similar interests and backgrounds; she’s also Latina and came to FLOC as a student, she studied International Affairs at Tufts, and we laugh at the same things.” Lisbeth also said that she has appreciated how Jazmin encouraged her to stay on top of her college and scholarship applications this year.
Lisbeth has many wonderful FLOC memories. The SAT prep that FLOC provided during her 11th grade year helped to increase her scores in all three sections—math, reading, and writing. “I learned new vocabulary, of course, but I also learned how to think through test answers when I came across words or phrases I was unfamiliar with,” she said. During her junior year of high school, Lisbeth went on a spring break college tour with FLOC. “We visited UNC Greensboro, Radford, and VCU, which were three of the schools I applied to,” she recollected. The college tour not only proved helpful in the college decision process itself, but also provided Lisbeth with an opportunity to make lasting friendships with other FLOC students.
With graduation just around the corner, Lisbeth is excited for college and all of the new opportunities that come with it.
(Samantha Bailey is the Bilingual Recruitment and Outreach Coordinator at FLOC.)
On Friday, April 17th, during DCPS and FLOC spring break, 8 FLOC High School Scholars had the opportunity to be lobbyists for a day. They began their Capitol Hill visit with a working breakfast, learning and discussing about the U.S. legislative system, how to influence decisions and reach consensus, and the do’s and don’ts of lobbying.Then the students broke up into teams of two and headed off to House and Senate office buildings to shadow some professional lobbyists and participate in meetings with congressional staffers on topics ranging from health care to cyber security to transportation infrastructure and more.
One of our high school sophomores got to lobby a congressional staff member on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law (or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), which sets national standards for closing the achievement gap and provides funding for state and local school districts. Joel had the opportunity to share his own experiences with DC’s annual assessment tests and his recommendation that Congress make college more affordable for all students.
After a full morning of learning and lobbying, it was time for a fantastic lunch in one of the Congressional dining rooms, including ice cream for dessert, and a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Our tour included some of the usual interesting stops, like the Capitol Rotunda and murals, Statuary Hall, the old Supreme Court Chambers, and the exact center of Washington, DC. But it also included some extra special behind-the-scenes peeks that the general public doesn’t usually get to see, such as visiting the Senate Cloakroom and stepping onto the Senate floor, touring the Minority Leader’s office, and a ride on the Capitol subway. Many thanks to the staff from the offices of the National Governors Association, Senate Sergeant at Arms, Senator Bennett from Colorado and the staff of the Democratic Cloak Roomfor making this tour possible, plus the Senate pages who spoke to us about their lives as high school students living and working in DC for the semester.
Our group of students included an aspiring politician and a young woman set on being the “second Latina Supreme Court Justice,” so the insiders glimpse into our political process was such a fabulous experience to help them on their career journey!
(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)
During Spring Break, the 11th Grade Scholars set out on an extensive college tour through Virginia and North Carolina. Visiting 10 schools in total, the students gained exposure to many different kinds of college and universities. They visited the urban campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, the closed campus of the University of Richmond, the historically black Virginia State University, and the large, bustling campuses of North Carolina State University and Virginia Tech. They met up with current Postsecondary Scholars at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Radford University, who were able to give the 11th Grade Scholars a first-hand look into the college experience following life in DC.
The tour also took students through the campuses of Greensboro College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University. The Scholars enjoyed seeing college campuses in action—students studying, rushing to class, playing in the quad, and eating in the cafeteria. They were able to take a peek inside dorm rooms, libraries, study halls, and classrooms. They were able to walk through the different campuses, getting a sense of what size student body felt most comfortable to them.
They were able to enjoy lunches and dinners in conversation with current students, learning more about the available student organizations and quality of food!
And perhaps the dinner they most enjoyed was when we surprised Joe, FLOC’s Postsecondary Program Coordinator, with a birthday celebration he won’t soon forget! We only hope he was able to wash that whipped cream off his face . . .
(Ian McPherson is a program instructor with the Scholars Program.)
Fifteen FLOC 11th grade Scholars took advantage of their week off from school to join myself and two other FLOC staff members on a five-day college tour. During the week, we visited six schools and traveled through five states.
Our first stop was Pittsburgh where we visited the University of Pittsburgh (UPitt) and the Community College of Allegheny County. For some students, this was their first opportunity to spend substantial time on a college campus. We had a great time in Pittsburgh and were able to enjoy some of the campus festivities happening on UPitt’s campus during our visit.
Pennsylvania State University at Altoona was our next stop. Despite the drizzle, we had definitive backwards-walking tour guides who shared their love for Penn State Altoona with our students. Students asked a lot of questions and loved seeing the contrast between a very large school, UPitt, and a smaller school, Penn State Altoona. We broke up our drive by stopping by the main Pennsylvania State University campus in University Park to enjoy ice cream from the on-campus creamery before traveling to Syracuse, New York.
After a run in with a sudden April blizzard, we awoke to fresh snow in Syracuse which luckily melted as the sun joined us out on our tour of Syracuse University. Students enjoyed seeing the indoor stadium and hearing about the on-campus flight simulator. Once we were done comparing the food at Syracuse with our previous cafeteria visits, we headed to Philadelphia just in time to attend a Phillies baseball game. We spent the evening cheering on the home team and ended our trip by visiting the beautiful St. Joseph’s University (SJU), where we heard all about Hawk Basketball and voted SJU as having the “best cafeteria food” of our trip by a landslide.
At all of the colleges we visited students asked a lot of questions, ate in the on-campus dining halls and gained knowledge about different types of post-secondary institutions. I was impressed with the information our students retained about each campus visit and appreciated hearing the progression in the complexity of their questions as the week passed and we visited more schools.
This week also gave me the opportunity to witness friendships blossom between our students and get to know them outside of the FLOC building. When the time comes for these 11th graders to begin applying to colleges next fall, FLOC’s high school class of 2015 will know what to look for when deciding what colleges might be right for them. I am excited for the roller-coaster year that awaits them!
Test your knowledge of some of the schools we visited with trivia we learned on our tours!
1. Which college that we visited is Bob Costas an alumnus of? What international event does he take undergraduates from this university to every two years?
2. What two Pennsylvania counties does St. Joseph’s University span across?
3. What is the capacity at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus stadium, Beaver Stadium?
4. On which campus that we visited are ducks federally protected?
5. At what college was a famous children’s TV show (involving sweaters!) filmed at? What is the name of the TV show?
Answers: 1. Syracuse; the Olympics 2. Philadelphia and Montgomery 3. 107,282 4. Penn State University – Altoona 5. UPitt; Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.
(Lauren Ballinger is a Scholars Program Instructor at FLOC).