Columbia College sponsors second Summer Expeditions for elementary and junior high students.
The speaker was poised and confident at the graduation ceremony, talking about what Columbia College had done for him: given him a blueprint for the future.
Before he came to the college, Brevinn Tyler said, "I thought Columbia College was a small school with nothing exciting." This program changed that perception. "I found Columbia College is big in its own way," he said, giving students the tools to succeed in the classroom and in life.
Brevinn, age 12, was speaking at the graduation for Summer Expeditions students. These students got a full taste of college life with residence hall, library and gym tours; creative writing, graphic design, health and fitness and forensics science classes — and of course cafeteria food. Judging from the scoured trays, they didn't mind it.
The program, now in its second year, was divided into two separate weeks, one for fourth and fifth graders and the second for sixth and seventh graders.
Dr. Wanda Brown, assistant superintendent for secondary education with Columbia Public Schools, also spoke at the ceremony. She said she attended a segregated elementary school —black kids didn't go to kindergarten back then, she said. When high school graduation was imminent, she said a man she respected told her to forget about college and become a secretary.
She did not follow this advice.
"Do not let anyone define your dreams," she told the rapt students. "You can be whatever and whomever you want to be."
The ceremony concluded with Dr. Terry Smith, executive vice president and dean for academic affairs, in formal academic regalia, handing out degrees "with all the rights, privileges and honors appertaining thereto."
Columbia College education students helped teach some classes, making the program a win-win for both sets of students.