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Youth Day at the University

Photo credit: Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

High School Students Learn Keys to Success

Why would there be 333 high school students in the University of Missouri-Kansas City Student Union on a Friday morning? They came to learn more about higher education.

The 2015 African American Youth Day team invited students to campus to provide an increased college awareness and to encourage their pursuit of higher education. Students came from area high schools in metro Kansas City, including Liberty North, St. Joseph Central, Lee’s Summit North, Turner High School and Raytown High School.

“It is certainly exciting to see the enthusiasm of the high school students today.” said Keichanda Dees-Burnett, director of Office of Multicultural Affairs, which sponsored the event. “This is one of our most important annual events, and the energy of the students helps us to create an engaging environment that will hopefully encourage them to pursue higher education.”

A series of interactive sessions were led by UMKC students, alumni and African American professionals in fields as varied as the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, UMKC Counseling Center and the Kauffman Foundation.

Students had an opportunity to attend three such sessions, participate in discussions led by UMKC alumni and tour the campus. The enthusiasm of the participants made for a lively, conversation-filled day.

During the session “Who’s in Your Clique?” students received tips on developing, or perhaps enhancing, their networking skills.

Garrett Webster, YMCA Young Achievers director, led the session and provided specific instructions to engage the reluctant teens.

“Stand and introduce yourselves to a fellow student, someone you do not know. After you exchange names, identify your favorite fruit and continue until you find a fruit that you both like. Move to the next group until all of you have been introduced to one another.”

And, so the session went. At the end of the session, students were talking freely and continually throughout the room. They received networking tips for success: be polite; have a firm handshake; listen to what the other person is saying; be bold; and follow up with those you meet.

Good advice for the students, who ranged from high school sophomores to seniors.

Other sessions included “UMKC Admissions and ACT College Preparation;” “Started from the Bottom, Now We’re Here;” and “#RelationshipGoals.”

Led by UMKC Admission coordinators Antionette Jackson and Susan DuPree, the Admissions and ACT college prep session featured a discussion regarding the college selection process, expectations when applying, and searching for scholarships and financial aid.

The day was designed with specific “hoped for” outcomes:

Students learn to identify people to have in their network and acquire communication techniques for establishing beneficial professional and social relationships.

Through UMKC African American student leaders sharing their personal experiences and advice on how to successfully navigate through the college experience in the face of personal and academic struggles, high school students will acquire strategies for overcoming challenges, getting involved on campus, balancing college schedules and connecting with campus and community resources.

Students learn about making safe and healthy life choices, sexuality, quality relationships, personal responsibility and resources to manage life decisions.

|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications


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