Mom, I got a degree!

Happy student participant

High-potential students from Columbia Public Schools graduate from Summer Expeditions program at Columbia College.

In late June, Columbia College partnered with Columbia Public Schools to introduce 15 high-potential students to higher education through a weeklong program called Summer Expeditions.

Students were bussed to the college, ate lunch on campus and then participated in classes such as math, music and fingerprinting. They were also given an overview of college life including a campus and residence hall tour, team-building activities and aptitude testing. Several Columbia College teacher education students also helped the students, and got hands-on teaching experience themselves.

In the fingerprinting class, the children learned about the basic types of prints (arch, loop, whorl), looked at unusual prints ("It looks like a smiley face!" "An owl!") then were fingerprinted. They also left their fingerprints on white tiles for others to analyze.

"You see it in CSI shows all the time, right?" said Shirley Talken, adjunct criminal justice instructor. "It's not quite so easy, is it?" The kids ruefully nodded.

At the graduation ceremony, Dr. Terry Smith, executive vice president and dean for academic affairs, said the program had been a blazing success and a model for roadmapping college. He wore his ceremonial robe and hood, which he said would not have been out of place in Oxford, England, 800 years ago. He put the hood on his head – its main function in Medieval times was to keep the rain and wind off — then showed how lecturers toted their class notes around in the billowing, voluminous sleeves. The kids laughed.

Girl receiving diploma
Smith then pronounced the smiling children graduates of the Summer Expeditions program, "with all the rights, privileges and honors appertaining thereto." He presented each one with a diploma.

Marsha Knudsen, Summer Expeditions coordinator, singled out the Columbia College student teachers for praise. "We could tell them everything we know about teaching, but there's nothing more valuable than actually teaching."

To the kids, Knudsen said, "We believe in you and we won't forget you!"

She then presented each student with a key ring that included a tiny LED light, "to find your way back to Columbia College someday."

"Mom, I got a degree!" one delighted girl said, waving her diploma as her mother beamed.