A group of 21 teens and future college students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV spent their summer getting a taste of collegiate life through the C.E.O. (Consider Every Option) Life Beyond High School Mentoring Program.

Over the summer, teens toured UT Brownsville, Texas A&M Kingsville, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and the University of Texas-Pan American. During the tours, university representatives were on hand to provide club members with information about admissions, residence life, scholarships and financial aid, student organizations, academic programs and student services. Teens also had a chance to visit academic departments of their choice, to talk with faculty, and to tour the campus. On site at the Club’s GoCenter, a college transition center, teens were provided personal attention by University of Texas-Pan American students and Club staff.

They participated in workshops which included Assistance with SAT/ACT Review & Exam, Career Development, College Scholarship & Financial Planning, Cultural Diversity, Leadership Development, Library Research, Life Skills and Time Management & Study Skills.

This mentorship program gave the teens opportunities that many of them would likely not have otherwise had, given their backgrounds. “Some of the teens are overcoming tremendous challenges in their personal lives, but continue to succeed in high school,” said Sabrina Walker-Hernandez, chief professional officer. “We wanted to encourage these teens.” Personal challenges include living in foster homes, being homeless, learning English and taking on adult responsibilities in single-parent families, according to Maria Medina, Director of Operations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV.

The program looked to show students that college is a possibility, Medina said, “especially for those who had never had exposure to a college campus.”

“I learned a lot about the college admissions process and I have a better understanding of how to reach my goals,” said Joseph Henderson, resident of La Blanca, who is “definitely going to apply to college. I want to go to UNC and become a mechanical engineer.”

The Boys & Girls Club has played an integral role in the Edinburg community for 38 years, providing daily programs and services to over 16,000 young people. During the School year the Club is open Monday through Friday, 3:30 to 8 p.m. and during the summer the hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Club offers programs that emphasize character and leadership development, education and career enhancement, health and life skills, the arts, and sport, fitness and recreation. To date the club has given out of $1,100,000 in college scholarships.

The C.E.O. (Consider Every Option) Life Beyond High School Mentoring Program is funded in partial by the Office of Justice Program and Encore-Engaging Communities for College Readiness. If you would like to learn more about our College Readiness programs, school partnerships, or to make a contribution please contact Sabrina Walker-Hernandez, chief professional officer, at 956-383-2582 or E-mail swalker@edinburgkids.com.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Edinburg Rio Grande Valley is a proud City of Edinburg partner and Hidalgo County United Way Agency.