Category: Vision Days

Vision Days Cohort Returns for the Spring

By Ashley Cunigan
CCBP Student Assistant

Vision Days, a program of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), expects 500 high school students to return to campus Feb. 20, 25 and 27.

Ninth grade students from both rural and urban high schools attended Vision Days in the fall. They not only learned about college majors but also about the requirements for admission and scholarship opportunities at The University of Alabama.

Harley Langford, a student at Berry High School who is interested in nursing, said the college tour was her favorite part of the program. “I liked the operating room and am interested in neurology. I’m a big Alabama fan and can see myself coming to UA.”

In 2019, Vision Days expanded from its inaugural format into a cohort model, providing visiting freshmen the opportunity to attend again during their sophomore, junior and senior years. Each time the high school cohort visits campus, Vision Days will have a different focus. The spring session will be the first Vision Days cohort to return as 10th-grade students.

Tasha Brownlee, lead counselor at George W. Carver High School, brought her students to campus in the fall. “The students thoroughly enjoyed the program. Carver looks forward to this opportunity again next year,” she said.

The focus of Vision Days this spring will be on student life. High school students will have the opportunity to visit residence halls, the Robert E. Witt Student Activity Center and a table fair. In addition, they will hear from a panel of undergraduate students about class schedules, clubs, internships, study abroad and life in Tuscaloosa.

Daniela M. Susnara, CCBP’s program coordinator for community education, says, “We hope to provide high school students from rural and underrepresented communities an eye-opening experience here at Vision Days. We hope they feel welcomed and want to come back.”

This is the third gathering of Vision Days students on campus. Representatives of the New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, sponsored annually by the Division of Community Affairs in partnership with the Office of Academic Affairs, the Graduate School, the Center for Community-Based Partnerships and the Council on Community-Based Partnerships, came up with the idea to reach more in-state students from traditionally underserved areas in 2018. The resulting Vision Days program has expanded to reach 1,000 students since it began.

Vision Days Program to Expand in Year 2

Vision Days logo.

By Ashley Cunigan
CCBP Student Program Assistant

A community education initiative begun with the goal of planting seeds of a college education in students for whom a college degree seemed unlikely will reach some 500 students from underrepresented areas in Alabama in 2019, an increase of almost 25 percent over the year before. Vision Days for the fall semester will be Nov. 5 and 7 and Nov. 12 and 14.

Vision Days, a program of the Division of Community Affairs’ Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), brings to campus high school students to learn about different majors and extracurricular activities.

Students from 17 high schools will be attending this fall, four more than last year. The University of Alabama is proud to bring back this program for a second year allowing in-state high school students to explore a variety of interests and possible majors.

Begun fall semester 2018, the event attracted 400 9th-grade students from Alabama’s Black Belt and other underrepresented areas for a total of four days over two consecutive weeks. This year, Vision Days moves to a cohort model, which will allow attendees to return in their sophomore, junior and senior years.

Director of Community Education Andrea Ziegler, who directs Vision Days, said: “Vision Days provides opportunities for students to explore life beyond high school while developing connections within the University. We want to partner with students to help them see that the path to their future includes the university.”

Daniela M. Susnara, CCBP’s program coordinator for community education, added, “Vision Days not only gives students a glimpse of The University of Alabama, but also a vision of their opportunities beyond high school. Our aim is to give them an eye-opening experience by welcoming them to campus and creating relationships.”

Vision Days is composed of three sessions that explore the possibilities of attending UA. Students go on a tour based on their major or college of interest. They are then invited to a table fair with representatives from Early College (which offers high school students college courses), Honors College, the Graduate School, Capstone Center for Student Success, Career Center, student work programs and student organizations. The day concludes with an information session about scholarship opportunities and financial aid.

As an on-campus recruiting initiative, Vision Days is supported by every college on campus, allowing the entire University to make connections with students during Vision Days and to follow up with them through their high school graduation.

Each high school cohort that visits campus will have a different focus. For example, 9th graders receive an introduction to UA; 10th graders focus on the Office of Student Life, which includes, housing, recreation and student activities; 11th graders concentrate on majors, courses and programs of study. In their senior year, Vision Days attendees prepare for the college application process and applying for scholarships.

Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for the Division of Community Affairs, said, “Vision Days gives students the opportunity to think about their interests and the importance of higher education for their life’s goals. It also helps students make decisions about their high school courses in relation to their intended college major. Vision Days opens eyes to the future.”

Community Affairs got the idea for Vision Days from the annual New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, sponsored annually by CCBP, as well as from an institutional effort to reach more in-state students from traditionally underserved areas.


Vision Days Broaden College Insights for High School Students

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Fellow

In order to be successful in college, students should begin thinking about their higher education options early in high school. This is the message behind “Vision Days,” sponsored by the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), a unit within The University of Alabama’s Division of Community Affairs.

The idea came out of the annual New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, sponsored annually by CCBP, as well as from an institutional effort to reach more in-state students from traditionally underserved areas.

Ashley Meadows, who teaches English at Thomasville High School, said the opportunity to bring dozens of ninth graders to UA’s campus was a great experience.

“My ninth graders were saying they needed to know more about this stuff now because by the time they are juniors or seniors it is too late,” said Meadows, now in her 12th year of teaching. “It’s good for them to know that the classes they are taking now, those grades are cumulative and will affect scholarships down the line, and affect them just getting into college.”

Meadows, who brought students Oct. 23 and Oct. 25 to visit UA’s engineering, nursing, business, arts and sciences, education, social work, human environmental sciences and communication programs, said the exposure alone was invaluable.

“It’s so good for these young kids to be able to see the world outside of our small town and classroom,” said Meadows, who brought 30 students on both days.

Students from both rural and urban high schools attended Vision Days. They not only learned about different majors offered at the University, but also about the requirements for admission and scholarship opportunities.

“I wanted to learn more about what I need to do to get into college and what kinds of clubs they have at college,” said Henry Smoot, a ninth grader from Woodlawn High School, a four-year magnet school in Birmingham. Smoot said he dreamed about “owning my own business and being a mechanical engineer. I feel better now that I see other students from the school I come from that made it, and it makes me feel like I can make it.”

Keontay Madison said he attended the tour to find out about scholarships and academic requirements. “I learned that if you want a scholarship you need at least a 3.5 GPA and I learned about things you can do to qualify” said Madison, who was visiting UA for the first time. “You need to have enough time to prepare; 12th grade goes by fast. Now I have four years to think about what I want to do.”

Vision Days targets high school students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to visit campus with their parents or guardians “to give them an idea of what their options are early in their high school careers so that they are not scrambling their junior and senior years to fix their grades or try to get into college,” said Daniela Susnara, a kinesiology doctoral graduate assistant in the College of Education. “We’re trying to put college at the front of their minds so they can be proactive their freshman and sophomore years and also get them to set some early goals.”

In addition to students from Woodlawn and Thomasville, students from Amelia Love Johnson, Berry, Greene County, Sumter Central, Carver, Greensboro, Wenonah and Pickens County High Schools also attended Vision Days on Oct. 16, 18, 23, and 25.