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Program gives students glimpse of college life

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan
By Jenna Duncan

Students and staff members flowed in and out of the University of North Texas Career Center on Friday, where they spoke with a group of special high school visitors.

The visitors were from a new program in Dallas called Thr!ve, which helps young African-American men land six-week internships and learn about their options after high school.

From men’s basketball associate head coach Rob Evans to Patrick Vasquez, the director of outreach, people from different aspects of the university made their way in front of the group.

For many in Thr!ve, it was an introduction to college, said Donica Williams, coordinator of the Thr!ve Intern & Leadership Program.

“Not all of them, but for a lot of them, their parents never went to college and a lot have never stepped foot on a college campus,” she said. “If they’ve never seen themselves there, they probably don’t know the steps it takes to get there. We wanted them to see the campus, see other students here and realize this is something they are able to do.”

Mark Pullam, assistant director of the UNT Career Center, heard about the program on the radio when it was in the formation stages. Organizers were looking for companies that could provide internships for participants, and Pullam thought there could be a tie-in with higher education.

Since the students are considering employment at this early age, “they’ll be able to do so many hours of internship work, but [a job] is the end part of it,” he said. “To get to those jobs, you’re going to need to go to college.”

When he pitched the idea to his boss and UNT leadership, everyone was enthusiastic. He found the same attitude when he started to recruit people to speak.

“Everyone on campus was willing to talk; I don’t think anyone turned me down,” he said. “I didn’t have to poke or prod anyone to come, they were all happy to.”

One of the visitors, Cedric Jackson, said he was already familiar with college tours and even UNT because his cousin just graduated and his brother is currently enrolled. However, some of what he found out on the UNT tour was different from what he learned at other schools, he said, including information about the different scholarships he could earn.

“It gave me a lot of resources about how to talk to my teachers and admissions counselors,” he said.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.