December 7, 2013

Reflecting on Autumn Quarter

By UW Dream Project

aww

By Jeremy Webb and Michael Zhang, Dream Project AmeriCorps Members

How is it already almost finals week? This quarter has flown by and I can’t believe everything that the Dream Team has done in 11 short weeks!

As the Dream Project continues to grow and make an impact in our community, we have begun to build different partnerships. One of which is with the Pipeline Project, another program within the UW that partners undergrads with K-12 students in a tutoring aspect. Although the two programs are somewhat different, there are lots of opportunities for collaboration. For example, leaders have been working hard this quarter to ramp up our recruitment efforts next quarter in classroom presentations. More work to come, as different Dream Project leaders plan to work on future curriculum support and 9th/10th grade outreach with our friends in Pipeline!

Along with strengthening our partnerships with other organizations, Dream Project also put on its biggest event of the year this quarter, Admissions Workshop Weekend. It may have come and gone in a blur, but its effects will last a lifetime. A total of over 700 students came over the course of the two days, and a lot of work got accomplished. All the mentors, High School Leads, and event committee members made the event such a success for the students. Here are some quotes from our post-AWW survey:

“The most helpful part of this event was working on college applications because I had a lot of questions, and I might have not completed one of my applications if I didn’t get any help from the mentors.”

“More days like this (like every weekend for a month).”

“The most powerful part of this event for me was the advice and suggestions from my Dream Project mentors. It was beneficial because they provided useful details and areas that I need to revise in my college essay prompts which helped me finish. I also loved the food!”

As you can tell, the food trucks were a big hit, and a lot of students wished AWW happened for more than just one weekend. I’m not sure if that will happen, but I like the enthusiasm. :) It still amazes me that such a large event is put on annually by such fantastic students; it truly is a blessing to watch and experience.

Autumn Quarter has also been the pilot quarter for the Dream Project’s newest extension, College and Career Readiness Assistants (CCRAs). (I’m trying to get the verb “CCRAing” to catch on, to describe the work our CCRAs do on a weekly basis.) Thanks to the Race to the Top grant we received earlier this year, funds were set aside for 18 CCRAs to work in some of our partner high schools and nearby middle schools to help raise college awareness. After encountering some initial speed bumps, the CCRAs have really started to enjoy their work and have been covering a variety of topics while utilizing a plethora of different teaching tools. Seeing the work that they have been doing and the planning they put into each day has been incredible.

It is also quickly becoming the season of leadership transition. I’m amazed to see leadership transition taking place and watching our current leaders recruiting other mentors to take their place. Our high school leads are two thirds of the way done with their cohort and starting to work with the 40 new high school leads! I am so excited to meet these new high school leads, get to know them, and help them grow and mature.

Basically, Autumn Quarter has been ridiculously busy with everything ranging from event prep work parties to classroom presentations. But beyond our booked Google Calendars and schedules, the one thing that has remained constant is our devotion to our mentees. I’m so so so proud of all of our mentors that have helped their mentees apply for college and can’t wait to see them continue to support mentees throughout the rest of their senior year. Straight cruisin’ onto Winter Quarter. Hope you join us.

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