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College Encouragement

Local high school English language learners visit ETSU, receive support for college application proc

By Amanda Milstead
On April 17, 2011

  • Dr. Christopher Dula spoke to visiting high school students who participated in this years XCELL Mentor Program. XCELL offers English language learners support as they transition to college. Amanda Milstead

About a dozen high school students form Science Hill High School and Tennessee High School visited East Tennessee State University as part of the XCELL Mentor Program.

"We are trying to give them an extra push to get them into college," said Matthew Wampler, of ETSU's Language and Culture Resource Center.

The XCELL program pairs local English language learning high school juniors and seniors with mentors who urge them to seek higher education. Since Wampler started coordinating the program in June 2010, they have mentored over 200 area high school students in an attempt to steer them toward college enrollment.

"I'm really excited to bring our students to ETSU and I'm happy to have spent my senior year working on this project," said Wampler.

ETSU is not the only institution participating in the program. Milligan College, Northeast State Community College and King College try recruiting students from the program as well.

Representatives from ETSU's financial aid office were on hand to explore funding options for college, and the students received backpacks filled with ETSU swag.

Dr. Christopher Dula, a well-known ETSU professor in the psychology department, spoke with fervor about the importance of reaching higher and earning a degree. One of the statistics he cited was about the lifetime earning potential of a person with a college degree versus someone with a high school diploma or a General Educational Development certificate.

"I was more or less a juvenile delinquent when I was your age," Dula said. "Most people think I should be dead or in jail by now."

At some point in his youth, Dula decided to take a different road and began taking college courses. He told the audience about how he started his education at a community college. Because he maintained a high grade point average, opportunities to continue his education presented themselves.

"I decided that if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right," he said. "I don't even know you guys, but I can tell you that you can get a Ph.D., too."

The potential college students broke into groups based on their areas of interest, and took tours of campus before eating lunch at the Marketplace. Later in the afternoon, the scholarship office met with the students in an attempt to find cash for college. Wampler said he hoped that Friday's event would steer the students toward college enrollment.

"ETSU rocks," said Dula. "I love it here."


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