Mr. Smith has gone to Washington and now so has Mr. (Alex) Smyth and two fellow Talent Search/Upward Bound participants from the programs at Tusculum College. Along with Smyth, who is an upcoming senior at West Greene High School, attending as representatives from East Tennessee were Maggie Solomon, a senior at South Greene High School and Alyssa Shepherd, a senior from Cosby High School.
The three were nominated to represent their program at the 2010 Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) National Student Leadership Congress in Washington, D.C., by their advisors and then were selected by a committee for the COE conference.
All three attended the event June 5-10 along with representatives from across the country, including territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“We started with a Diversity Class the first day and that was really helpful for us to get started and for everyone to start off by accepting our differences,” said Solomon. “One of the best parts was getting to talk to the other students about where they were from and what their programs were like.”
According to Smyth and Shepherd, on their agenda were historical tours, including national monuments, meeting with the staffs of their congressmen and participating in a mock Congress competition (which Smyth’s team won.)
“Each team was assigned a topic and we had to write a bill,” said Smyth. Each team argued for their bill and in the end only one could pass, with all members of each team being able to vote.
“It gave me a whole new perspective on the political process,” said Smyth.
The students also participated in a political rally for their programs and attended a play at the Kennedy Center, both amazing experiences for Solomon and Shepherd who were experiencing their first visit to Washington, D.C.
“It was great to get to know people with different perspectives and to learn about their programs, said Shepherd.
Added Solomon, “It really makes you appreciate what you have. Our program here (at Tusculum College) has many components that other programs don’t have, like the summer programs.”
The Talent Search program at Tusculum College, which all three have participated in and Smyth still participates in, is a college preparatory program funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Through the program, students are encouraged to investigate a variety of postsecondary institutions, including two and four-year colleges and universities. The Tusculum program serves 1,450 students from 18 high schools and 20 middle schools in the Upper East Tennessee Region.
Talent Search program services are provided at no cost to qualified participants.
Upward Bound, which serves high school students, including Solomon and Shepherd, and is currently in summer session on the Tusculum College campus in Greeneville, brings the students to the college to learn and experience life on a college campus. Students take courses and live on campus. They learn to deal with roommates and experience eating in the cafeteria.
The programs are very much set up like a college program, offering courses for students to choose from, including “Creative Writing,” “Forensic Science,” “Navigating Math” and “Destination Space,” which is linked directly with NASA and focuses on the study of space.
For more information about Tusculum College’s TRIO programs, contact Jeanne Stokes, director of TRIO programs, at 423-636-7300.