College Bound turns 25
College Bound celebrates its 25th anniversary with an impressive record of achievement. So far, 98 percent of the 220 graduates of the Lynch School’s academic enrichment and support program have gone on to graduate from college within four years—with the help of $22 million in higher education scholarships and grant support.
Originally designed to help high-performing students from Brighton High School and West Roxbury High School prepare for, succeed in, and graduate from reputable colleges and universities, College Bound revamped its mission in 2007, according to Catherine Wong, director of urban outreach initiatives, which includes College Bound. “We focus on engaging students who are not at the top of their class, but in the middle, maybe struggling; students who, with guidance, have great potential to succeed,” says Wong.
Applicants are now admitted based on their academic drive, leadership qualities, and demonstrated commitment to social justice in their schools and local communities.
Of the sixty current students, 95 percent are students of color; they come to Boston College from Brighton High School and West Roxbury Education Complex, home to Urban Science Academy and West Roxbury Academy.
College Bound sessions are held on Saturdays twice a month, and some students also come to BC after school on weekdays to attend undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as to be tutored.
The curriculum emphasizes STEM learning (science, technology, engineering, and math) with a focus on social justice and community development. Students apply skills they learn in STEM classes to solve problems in their neighborhoods. For example, current students are identifying local vacant lots in their communities, conducting soil and air quality tests, designing building plans to redevelop the parcels, and plan to submit suggestions to community development corporations.
Last year, College Bound graduates Rhodesherdeline Limage and Nathalie Myrthil received two of the 1,000 Gates Foundation Millennium Scholarships awarded each year to outstanding minority students with significant financial need. The full-ride scholarship made it possible for Limage to attend Northeastern University and Myrthil to go to the College of the Holy Cross.
“College Bound taught me to appreciate my environment, and opened my eyes to understanding what I could do to make it a better living space,” says Limage, who is planning a career in electrical engineering. She and her classmates studied hydroponic farming, learning to seed and harvest organic produce to improve food options in their neighborhoods. The students sold their products at a community share market at St. Columbkille Church, in Brighton, last year.
Students also study urban planning, media engagement, and public relations.
Funding for the program comes from the Sharp Foundation, and other grants.
Fotios (Frankie) Stamos, a College Bound student from 1988-1992, says College Bound was a life-changing experience. “I am the first-born son of Greek immigrants, for whom education was the ticket to success in this country. My parents taught me the benefits of hard work, but Boston College taught me discipline, organization and the importance of time management,” he says. Stamos went on to earn a full scholarship to Boston College, studying communication and modern Greek studies. He owns multiple businesses in the Boston area.
2011 College Bound graduates and Gates Millenium Scholars Rhodesherdeline Limage and Nathalie Myrthil flank West Roxbury Academy headmaster Rudy Weekes and Director of Urban Outreach Initiatives, Catherine Wong.