Posted at: 07/18/2013 4:04 PM
Updated at: 07/18/2013 6:20 PM
By: Travis Dill
St. Scholastica invited over 40 disadvantaged youths to Duluth with hopes they will become first-generation college students.
The Discover Duluth program tripled in size since starting last summer. The program brings the Twin Cities high schoolers to St. Scholastica so they can see college as a real option.
Nathan Dixon is a senior at the College of St. Scholastica, and he's mentoring the students that are facing the same challenges he did.
“They see the tuition and they say, 'I can't do that,' and we bring them up here. We show them that college is a very good option. There's tuition, but there's financial aid. There's options for you. They come in with all these questions and they leave so optimistic. They're like, 'Man, I can do this,'” Dixon said.
He said that is the goal of Discover Duluth, and students like Kevis Hollins were excited to take advantage of the free trip to Duluth.
“I personally look at the architecture, and I really like the old style of the buildings and the old style of Duluth in general,” Hollins said.
Hollins wants to study mechanical engineering and dreams of designing car engines, but he said money is a barrier for his family.
“We are very much a medium to low income family. We don't have a lot of money set aside. What we do it's usually used up in months because the car will break down,” Hollins said.
Those financial hurdles make it nearly impossible for first-generation students to even visit a campus like the College of St. Scholastica, but Hollins said Discover Duluth is making college seem like a real possibility.
“It's made college less scary because now looking at it there are a lot more people that want to help you,” Hollins said.
And that support can lead to whole families achieving their dreams.
“I feel like my little brother and sister, they're so important. They're the reason I do this. I want them to grow up to have a quality education like I do,” Dixon said.
The students were lodged in the dorms, but the program doesn't just take place on campus. The group toured Duluth and even said farewell with a barbecue at Park Point.
Officials with the College of St. Scholastica said they hope to continue growing the program.