By DAWN DECKER
Mid Michigan Community College strongly believes in giving future generations every chance for a head start at moving on to college and becoming successful after high school. One incentive that is offered to help the surrounding communities and their youth is the Students of Promise program.
Every year 20 local seventh graders from five area schools (four students from each) are inducted into the Students of Promise program with high hopes for a bright future. A full-year scholarship is awarded to the students who are selected to be part of this program. Tammy Alvaro, program coordinator, has a great outlook for these students and their future.
“The program to me is all about the kids,” Alvaro said. “I absolutely love working with them and encouraging them. My goal is to help them learn more about themselves, as well as those around them, and to help them realize their potential. I want them to find their passion in life, so that they never ever feel like they are working, but that they love what they are doing every minute of every day!“
The students are selected in their seventh year of schooling based on school recommendations and academic potential. Instructors from local schools recommend a large number of students every year and then the selection process begins. Each student has to write an essay that is reviewed by a council at MMCC, with only four students from each of the five schools making the final cut.
The Students of Promise program consists of students with high academic potential and they remain in the program until graduation. This helps the members realize their full potential, broadens the students’ horizons and exposes them to cultural diversity.
In-school advising, mentoring by MMCC students and staff, exposure to campus and activities, and academic and social experiences are just a few of the things that are shared throughout the Students of Promise experience. Students frequently sit in on classes, shadow MMCC students and even participate in on-campus training.
When some ninth-grade members were asked how they thought the program was helping them prepare for the future, it was clear these students were on the right track to achieve academic success. “I have learned to manage my time well,” one student said. A second replied, “I finally know the importance of understanding what I am learning and not just going with the flow.”
Dezzaray Decker, a ninth grader from Farwell, shared some of her experiences and said she really enjoys the team-building exercises. “I have always been a quiet, shy, book-smart person,” she said. “This has helped me become more outgoing and put my smarts to good use.”
Members get to attend a variety of extra activities such as Loons’ baseball games, MMCC theater productions, outings to museums and art institutes, and meetings at the college itself. Every summer they participate in a camp week that is held at the Harrison campus. During that time the students gather as a group and work on team-building skills, get helpful tips for the future and also enjoy some summer fun.
After completing high school as Students of Promise, their first year at MMCC is covered by scholarships, helping them overcome challenges in their lives and realize their full potential.