Monday, September 20, 2004

College sampler gets teens thinking of future

By Maggie Downs
Enquirer staff writer

Caryn Slade, 17, of Westwood, hasn't decided where she will attend college. But thanks to the Ohio Classic Black College Fair, she now has some options in mind.

"Something like this is very important," said Slade, who hopes to major in business management. "Some of the schools you never heard about before, now you get a chance to think about."

The free event at the Westin Hotel was sponsored by the Cincinnati Association of Black Universities and College Alumni, a group made up of 16 chapters.

About 20 historically black schools were represented Sunday.

The schools represented at the Westin included Tuskegee and Wilberforce universities.

"You have to know what a school is like before you go there," said Brittany Woods, 16, of Bond Hill. "This way you can learn more about the people, its programs, how it feels."

The national recruiter from Grambling State University, Nora Taylor, along with Vice Mayor Alicia Reece, announced that out-of-state fees would be waived for any local student who wants to attend the school.

This is a savings of almost $3,000 for students who live on campus, bringing the cost down to $3,598 for a 12-credit-hour semester.

"I'm focused on making sure more kids get an opportunity like I did to go to Grambling State," said Reece, a 1993 graduate of the Louisiana school.

Karl Gaston, national chairperson for the End Zone Club, the Ohio Classic college preparatory program, brought about 45 youths from Middletown to the event.

The fair was the final event in an education-themed weekend for the teens, who attended workshops and programs as well as the gridiron showdown between Grambling State University and Bethune-Cookman College.

"We can bring the youth together to have a fun time at the game and have fun based around education," Gaston said.

Also the leader of the Middletown chapter, Gaston said the fair provided a priceless opportunity for the students to network with university representatives and ask questions about educational programs and financial aid in a one-on-one situation.

"It's their chance to say, 'I am an awesome package. I'm coming to your school, I'm going to do well, and I'm going to make significant contributions to your community,'" he said.



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