Five students from Newark Memorial High
School are planning to fly to the east coast next April to explore the possibility of attending an Ivy League school.
Sonia Torres, guidance counselor at NMHS, is organizing the field trip to encourage students to identify their long-term education goals and find ways to achieve them.
Torres said that she wants student to take ownership of their lives; in the process she will give back to the organization that her illuminated path to college. About 25 years ago, Martín Mares founded the Ivy League Project to encourage students from economically disadvantaged homes to apply to America’s premiere universities. Torres was attending high school in California’s Central Valley when the opportunity to take a field trip was presented to her. After high school she attended Brown University, which is one of the schools she will showcase on the trip.
“It’s about exposure, showing them ‘look you can have this too,’” she said. “It works…I’m a product of that,” she explained, describing her own experience with the Ivy League Project.
The students will also visit Harvard, MIT, Colby College, Columbia, Wellesley, Yale, Princeton, and Georgetown Universities. The eight day trip will allow the students to road trip up the east coast to visit colleges and experience life in a different social climate.
Newark Unified School District’s Board of Education unanimously approved the trip on Tuesday. Boardmember Charlie Mensinger said, "While I think this is a great trip, I think a better trip would have been to go up and down the California coast.”
“Frankly I believe that the schools on the California coast are as good if not better than the schools on the east coast,” Mensinger said, noting that the trip could have taken more students.
Boardmember Ray Rodriguez said he agreed, but offered a counter point.
“These are leadership kids, and when they come back they share what they’ve done,” Rodriguez said. “It impacts a lot of kids,” he said. He recommended asking those students to lead panel discussions during college awareness days at schools in the district.
Torres said she advertised for the program last academic year. These are the teens who were selected to be involved in the field trip. “The five are academically competitive and taking several honors and advanced placement course,” she said. This is the first time that she has organized this type of trip.
The students and their families are fundraising to pay for the travel costs, which are expected to run $2,500 per person.
They students plan to depart in April 2014 during spring break.