York U ACE grads to return as first-year students in fall

Two high-school students who completed their Advanced Credit Experience (ACE) program in June through York University’s Faculty of Education will return as first-year students in the fall.

Participating in the ACE program gave James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School students Destiny Kondell and Winnifred Kumi an opportunity to attend York University for one semester before graduating Grade 12.

Destiny Kondell
Winnifred Kumi

Kumi will begin her first year majoring in biomedical studies this fall, and Kondell hopes to pursue either Japanese studies or accounting come September.

The ACE program is designed to maximize post-secondary preparedness for high-school students. It presents students with the opportunity to earn $5,000 in scholarships and walk away with two open co-op credits, while offering post-secondary school experiences including lectures, community engagement and volunteer opportunities.

“It allows students to see that university is a possibility and that there really are no limits to what you can do,” said ACE Program Coordinator Nastassia Subban. “Students get a credit and financial support, and it is one way to start closing the [achievement] gap.”

A group of 27 high-school students – from several high schools in the area – were placed in a program at York University based on general interest. The program ran from September 2017 to January 2018.

The daily ACE routine for Kumi and Kondell involved attending math class at their high school in the morning, then commuting to York a few hours before their classes on campus, taking advantage of their chance to get acclimated to university life. Kumi’s course was Rethinking Schooling, while Kondell was enrolled in Literacy and Culture. On Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays, both Kumi and Kondell would volunteer for three hours on campus.

“ACE will definitely help you determine whether you are university bound or college bound,” said Kondell. “The most valuable program elements revolved around the university environment and its culture and faculty affirming my contribution to and competence in post-secondary academics. The ACE program helped me decide if I really wanted to go to university.”

Kumi said the experience helped her accept the idea of university as something that is doable.

“As a graduate of high school going into university, one valuable thing I’ve realized is it has given me a head start on what university is actually like,” she said. “That fear of ‘I’m going to a larger campus now!’ is not something I fear anymore, since I’ve had a semester to deal with it.”

Kumi said she gained a lot of insight into the transition to university with respect to with time management, finances and new academic responsibilities. The bursary that comes with the ACE program, she said, is a tremendous help.

She also noted that she feels social integration as a first-year will be easier than anticipated: “You will be OK, even if you think it’s hard to make friends or talk to people. I was around students and it is fairly easy because York U is very inclusive. It makes you feel like one group.”

In 2018, the Faculty received increased support from its partners in ACE, including the generous support of the Peter Gilgan Foundation.