Richmond, Va.
Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014

Future Rams? Carver Promise Students Tour VCU for a Taste of College Life

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012

They weren’t the tallest or the oldest students walking around Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park Campus last week, but the 50 fourth graders from George Washington Carver Elementary School may very well have been the most energetic students at VCU.

The young students are part of the Carver-VCU Partnership’s Carver Promise program, which links the elementary school’s students with mentors from VCU, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, the University of Richmond and Virginia Union University. They were visiting campus as part of a four-school college tour.

“We want to give them a taste of the college experience,” said Ron Brown, program coordinator of the Carver-VCU Partnership. “We want to let them know that this (attending college) is a possibility for them.”

Carver students joined VCU student ambassadors to kick off their campus tour at the  Mary and Frances Youth Center at VCU, home of VCU’s Lobs and Lessons program. The wall of tennis balls inside of the center brought “ooh’s” and “ah’s” from the young visitors as they entered the building and began to explore. 

The students were just as excited when considering the possibilities of the future.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked Amanda Bate, director of The College Place-Richmond.   

“A social worker – to help people,” said one little girl.

“I want to be the U.S. President or at least the Mayor,” offered one of the boys.

“I want to be in the military to protect our country,” said another boy.

Shouts of “artist,” “policeman,” “basketball player” and “physical therapist” quickly followed.

Bate then asked the adults in the crowd to talk about where they had gone to college. She wanted to emphasize that college is often the key to achieving life’s goals and talking to someone who has already been there may take some of the mystery out of going to college.

The children participated in other exercises inside of the center, learning how to work together to unravel a human chain and discovering that everyone doesn’t learn the same way while trying to master the “Cha Cha Slide.”

And then it was outside to learn tennis and to be treated to one of the day’s nicest surprises – a visit with VCU mascot Rodney the Ram.

A tour of the Monroe Park Campus followed, including activities and demonstrations at the School of the Arts and School of Engineering and lunch at the Shafer Dining Center.

The visit was coordinated by VCU’s Division of Community Engagement, the Carver-VCU Partnership, the AmeriCorps and America Reads programs, VCU Athletics, VCU Business Services, the College Place, Lobs & Lessons, the School of the Arts and the School of Engineering.

While learning to do the “Cha Cha Slide,” students became aware that some people learn by reading, others by listening and others by watching.
Rodney the Ram trades his basketball court for a tennis court, as Mary and Frances Youth Center Director Tina Carter begins the tennis lesson.
Carver students formed a circle, joined hands, closed their eyes and then figured out how to become untangled. It was part of a lesson on listening and teamwork. Photos by Mike Porter, VCU Office of Communications and Public Relations.