College Mentoring Pilot Program for Female High School Students Begins at Scranton

Mar 12, 2009

The doors to a college education just opened wider for 50 female high school students in the Scranton area.

The University of Scranton was among the 11 colleges in the country awarded funding through the 2008-09 Campus Action Project of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which supports projects that focus on issues raised by AAUW's Education Foundation 2008 research report Where the Girls Are: the Facts About Gender Equality in Education. The report found that although most girls finish high school and women earn the majority of bachelor's degrees, there are significant disparities in educational achievement and attainment among girls and women based on race and family income.

The university's initiative, called the Women Open Doors Mentoring Program, targets some of the educational barriers faced by women and girls from minority and low-income backgrounds.

"The Women Open Doors Program encourages high school girls to value their academic talents and pursue their individual interests," said Amy McKiernan, program coordinator for the Jane Kopas Women's Center. "The student mentors at The University of Scranton are very excited to meet young women from local high schools. Many of the mentors are the first women to attend college in their families. These women have insight into the college application process and look forward to sharing their stories with young, high school women."

Through Women Open Doors, University of Scranton female undergraduate students will mentor 50 female high school sophomores during the spring semester, focusing on college readiness and preparation. The college students will host the high school students on campus for a day-long program that includes attending college classes in their field of interest and activities organized by the Jane Kopas Women's Center and the Women's Studies Program.

In addition, University of Scranton students will give presentations about the college application process at three local high schools that serve students from populations typically under-represented on college campuses. The local students that will participate in the mentoring program will be drawn from this population.

The results of the pilot program will be presented the annual AAUW National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at the University of Maryland, College Park, in June.

University of Scranton students, faculty, and staff involved with the development of the grant application include McKiernan; Meghan Rich, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology; and students Sarah Suwak, Rachel Tracewski and Danielle Williams all of Clarks Summit; Janine Grosso, West Paterson, N.J.; Kyersten Rozanski, Milford; and Cassandra Fiadini, Bayonne, N.J.
The AAUW Campus Action Project 2008-09 projects funded focus on college preparation; promote the studying of science, technology, engineering and mathematics among women and girls; and encourage young women to become leaders in their communities.

A national organization established in 1881, the AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research.

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