Local high-school students experience life at York

“Amazing.” “Outstanding.” “A great experience.” These are just some of the comments made by students from Westview Centennial Secondary School and Emery Collegiate to describe their experience of life at York University through the Advanced Credit Experience (ACE) in the York/Seneca program.

Friends, family, University faculty and staff, and members of the Jane-Finch community recently celebrated the commitment, hard work, dedication and success of 24 students who earned university credit through the program at a gala dinner in their honour.

Right: ACE student Ladonna Taylor

The unique five-month program, which is an annual event, gave high-school students an opportunity to gain exposure to higher education and to experience college/university life first-hand by exposing them to all aspects of it, from attending lectures to working on campus.

“My goal has always been to attend university, but I was a bit nervous. However, after being a part of this program I now have greater confidence that university is the right place for me,” said Claudine Reid, a student from Westview Centennial Secondary School.

Developed by the York/Westview Partnership in cooperation with the Toronto District School Board, ACE gives “at risk” secondary school students an opportunity to directly experience some of the benefits of choosing to pursue a post-secondary education. The program allows students to be a part of an environment that is supportive and nurturing, and values critical thinking, personal growth and development. It also provides student role models and leaders within the school who can influence other students positively to pursue a similar journey of higher education.

“ACE is a prime example of ‘Equity and Access in Action’. The program demonstrates that when you give children what they need to succeed, they can be successful. It is a further example that socio-economic status is not an obstacle to success or intelligence”, commented Carol Cabral, who teaches in York’s Faculty of Education and is coordinator of the York Westview Partnership. “The Advanced Credit Experience furthers our commitment to improving the personal and career prospects of youth living in the Jane-Finch community.”

Some of the highlights of the program for students include:

  • a first-hand experience with college/university level expectations as well as an opportunity to earn a 0.5 credit at either York University or Seneca College;
  • co-op placements at York University/Seneca College for 3 to 4 days per week;
  • participation in WAY (Westview Alumni at York University), a group of Westview graduates at York who have an academic and social mentoring network in place; and,
  • participation in a peer mentoring program in their school or in the community.

“This innovative program highlights the dedication and accomplishments of some very special students whom we hope have been inspired by what higher education has to offer. By taking this message back to their own schools and communities, they may well inspire others to follow their lead,” said Paul Axelrod, dean of the Faculty of Education.

Funds for the program were provided through a $10,000 grant from the Maytree Foundation with matching funds provided by the York University Faculty Association Trust and York University. Other partners included the Faculties of Arts, Environmental Studies and Education.

This article was submitted to YFile by Anderson Coward, communications coordinator for the Faculty of Education.