Des Moines, IA - Heart of a Student presented a one-of-a-kind high school assembly for juniors and seniors. The assembly was held on Wednesday January 23rd at Lincoln High School in Des Moines, Iowa. Representatives from the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, IA) and Allen College (Waterloo, IA) were on site to answer questions and assist in filling out college applications.
œOur goal is to bring university representatives and currently enrolled college students in contact with high school students in an entertaining event. We seek to give each student a jump start in the application process, present essential scholarship opportunities, and promote higher education. -Dante Means, Founder of Heart of a Student
Former admissions counselor for Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa, Means has a goal to help students complete application materials early to ensure students are meeting necessary deadlines to qualify for available scholarships. While enrolled as a student at the University of Northern Iowa, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation in association with Iowa Broadcasters Association awarded Means with a $4000 annual scholarship. Without the generous scholarship award, higher education would remain a dream for Means. Many scholarships go unused every year because students are unfamiliar with the process and simply uninformed.
Prior to this first assembly, Heart of a Student was met with great resistance. Representatives from all three state schools and other college access programs declined invitations for participation due to concern that it was ineffective. The first event brought in over 30 interest cards for the University of Northern Iowa along with 11 completed application forms by minority students - numbers that are often only a dream in the college recruitment business. It is safe to say that the skepticism has been brought to a halt. Lincoln High School Principal, Paul Williamson, stated in a recorded statement that "I think you guys have a great thing going" when talking about the need for changing the mindset of education to reinforcing college readiness before resorting to preparing students for labor jobs.
The assembly started with a drama piece by youth motivational speaker Travis Lloyd Smith, long time friend and business associate of Dante' Means. It was followed by engaging musical performances and college access tips by hip-hop performer Means, as well as an outstanding performance by an international performing group, the Brazilian Twins. The twins offered stories of overcoming the ghettos of Brazil through higher education. In between performances, college reps had a live Q&A where students were actively engaged. It was all tied together with a live DJ. This event was the first of what will now be many assemblies to across Iowa. Gear Up, a national and state program for increasing college access to first generation and minority students, has offered to partner with Heart of a Student to impact over 30 high schools in Iowa.
These assemblies are a precursor to the first Heart of a Student conference at University of Northern Iowa, Spring 2013. Students from Lincoln High School as well as Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids were among the first to be invited. Highlights of the upcoming conference include: free concert performed by national performing artist, youth empowerment summit hosted by BET networks, and career focused workshops. For more information please email: email@example.com or visit www.heartofastudent.com.