SEAD wraps up 13th year on Saturday
By Clifton Lyons, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, July 27, 2012
The Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth program will conclude its 13th summer on campus on Saturday, supporting 26 high school students from under-resourced backgrounds across the East Coast on their path toward attending college.
SEAD was founded in 2001 through a collaboration between the Tucker Foundation and the College’s education department. The program selects high school freshmen who qualify for free or reduced lunches to come to Hanover each summer of their high school careers.
SEAD encourages academic preparedness and personal growth through specially designed courses, year-round mentoring and extensive interactions with Dartmouth undergraduates, alumni, faculty and Upper Valley community members.
Program director Jay Davis said that SEAD selects promising teenagers who have not yet had the opportunity to explore their capabilities.
“These are exceptional young men and women who face a range of challenges outside of SEAD,” Davis said. “One of the best ways to meet these challenges is with a support network, where they will each be personally known by dozens of Dartmouth students over their four years with us.”
The current SEAD students — hailing from Bronx, N.Y., Boston, Fairmont, W. Va., Schenectady, N.Y., and Raymond, N.H. — are rising seniors returning to Dartmouth for their third summer.
Over 300 sophomore volunteers, faculty members and staff worked one-on-one with the students over three weeks.
The program has seven lead teachers who are assisted by 15 undergraduates and recent alumni who live in the Choates residence hall with cluster with the students.
SEAD students are required to take college application, college essay and speech and leadership classes and have the opportunity to participate in various extracurricular activities including whitewater rafting, sexuality workshops, a trip to a Red Sox game, a coffee house talent show and a two-day college visit in Boston. A graduation ceremony will be held today to mark the students’ completion of their third summer. Graduation ceremonies are held at the end of each summer session.
The students will return to campus for a fall reunion weekend and then again for their fourth summer, known as SEAD IV, before heading to college.
Davis said that SEAD IV is the newest addition to the SEAD program and focuses on college completion.
Hope Palattella, a rising senior at Raymond High School, said that until she joined SEAD, she had never been exposed to so many students of diverse backgrounds.
“You meet these 25 strangers at the beginning of the summer, and after three weeks it feels like you have known them your whole life,” Palattella said. “Even though we all come from different places and have had different life experiences, we learned to accept one another and became a SEAD family.”
Like Palattella, many of the students involved in the program are first-generation college students who did not believe they would be able to attend college.
Evelynn Ellis, vice president for institutional diversity and equity, said that as a first generation college graduate, she was instantly attracted to the SEAD program.
“It was folks like those in SEAD who put me on their shoulders and showed me what was beyond my poor community,“ Ellis said. “Each day, I work to return what they gave me, to pay it forward.”
SEAD also offers Dartmouth mentors the opportunity to reach out to high school students in critical ways and to learn valuable things about themselves in the process.
Student director Michael Gordon ’12 joined SEAD his sophomore summer and said that it has been one of the most rewarding and inspiring experiences in his life.
“I got the chance to connect with these students on such a personal level and really gain an understanding of the challenges that they have had to overcome,” Gordon said. “At Dartmouth, it is really easy to get wrapped up in your own life and be completely oblivious to the educational disparity that exists right outside of our campus.”
Sophomore volunteer and academic mentor Isaac Guttman ’14 said he gained an “overwhelming” sense of respect for the SEAD students.
“These students have had to make such a substantial effort to make it to college,” Guttman said. “It is a struggle that few individuals will ever truly be able to understand.”