Ten grads of UO young scholars program are college bound

Oregon Youth Scholars grads and staff

Ten Oregon high school students who might never have seen their college dreams realized will all enroll in universities this fall thanks to the UO’s Oregon Young Scholars program.

All 10 graduated from the program May 13. Five will attend the UO in fall 2017.

Gweneth Wolfe, Miguel Villareal, Antonio Cuadros, Danyka Bratton and Habibatou Traore will all attend the UO. Amarianna Barr and Cassidy Ellis will attend Portland State University, Johnathan Walker will go to Florida A&M University, Noah Tewelde will attend George Fox University and Alex Nugusse is still undecided.

“The program has helped on a personal and academic level,” said Wolfe, who plans to major in planning, public policy and management. “The family I built with people in the program is invaluable, and the help I’ve been offered in terms of school is the only reason that I’ll even be continuing on to college next year.”

The Young Scholars program began in 2005 as an early outreach program for young high school students who otherwise might not have reached college. The program offers students a chance to experience college life firsthand.

Students have an on-campus residential experience each summer of their four years of high school. They live in a dorm, attend intensive classes in math and writing, and participate in an area of emphasis for specialized study, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math — known as the STEM fields — and fine arts.

They also learn about preparing, applying and paying for college and develop skills in civic engagement, active reflection and leadership.

Throughout the school year, students receive support through tutors, well-being checkups and help with general college preparation and application essays. Once a quarter, students have the opportunity to gather for check-ins and to strengthen relationships.

The program draws participants from eighth-grade classes of several schools in Eugene, Springfield, Portland and Salem that serve students who are the most underserved by higher education. The focus is on students of color, students from homes with limited incomes and students who are the first in their families to be college bound.

Graduates say they feel the program helps them academically and socially and gives them support to go through the demanding process of applying to college.

Villareal intends to major in accounting at the UO. He feels the youth scholars program provided broad education and support,

“The program has taught me many lessons, schoolwise and with life skills,” he said. “But most of all, the interactions and experiences I’ve had with other students and faculty is something I’ll never forget.”

Antonio Cuadros, a soon to be UO business administration major, praised the difference the program made for him.

“I loved OYSP,” he said. “It not only helped me academicwise, but it helped me socially to be less of an introvert and stand out. OYSP is an exemplary program that has been so helpful towards my completion of high school and introduction to college. OYSP is truly amazing.”

The UO Division of Equity and Inclusion and Costco help sponsor the program, which is currently seeking additional sponsors. Yvette Alex-Assensoh, vice president for equity and inclusion, said she is proud of the tenacity and accomplishments of the students.

“The program is rigorous and demanding, but each year the students more than rise to the challenge,” she said. “As they work through the program, students pick up valuable lessons in problem-solving and teamwork, as well as gain a deep understanding of the connection between their studies and their daily lives.”

Barbara Marbury oversees the program and is the program’s coordinator for pipeline and community engagement at the UO Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence.

“The Oregon Young Scholars program is an amazing opportunity for high school students from underrepresented groups to come together in a safe, nurturing environment to develop and grow their academic, social and leadership skills,” she said. “Coordinating this program has been one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life.”

The program is continuing with 40 students this summer, some returning to the program and some freshman coming for the first time.

—By tova stabin, University Communications