Students lead program motivating teens to pursue higher education

By Danielle Feole
April 24, 2008

Showing children at a young age that college is a possibility is a mission for Cabrini’s teen motivator program. For the first time this year, Jeannie Armbruster formed a partnership with St. Francis of Assisi to bring 7th and 8th grade students on campus and show them what college life is like.

Jessica Zawrotny, a junior psychology major at Cabrini, was awarded the Pierce scholarship for this year, which funds programs like this and others that are similar. She brings the class to campus every Friday to make the college experience more realistic and visual.

“The purpose is not for them to go to Cabrini. I’m not working for admissions to run this program. I’m educating about college in general,” Zawrotny said.

The teen motivator program is showing students from Norristown that financial burdens and different family situations doesn’t have to hold you back from getting a college education.

“It shows students cultural diversity and acceptance for people who are different than us,” Anita Heck, the science coordinator at St. Francis of Assisi, said.

The students have responded enthusiastically to this program and now are beginning to think about college as an option and an exciting time to look forward to.

“The students always ask, what’s happening at Cabrini this week,” Heck said. “They love it, the teachers love it.”

Zawrotny surveyed each student and they all wrote about how much they have learned about college and are excited for the program next year. Students stated that they are excited to meet new people, pick their own classes and have a dorm room to decorate. They feel nervous about gaining more responsibility or failing. Meeting with actual college students helps to eliminate the big fears that these children have about furthering their education.

“I always say this is a lot different than Penn State or Villanova, because the majority of the students aren’t going to come to Cabrini and need to know about other schools. If they come to Cabrini, that’s great.”

“The students need to feel as though they can make it in college,” Heck said.

At just the beginning, the teen motivator program has been a success. The students love meeting with Zawrotny and are eager to learn more about life in college in the years to come.

Danielle Feole

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