New mentor program offers opportunities for higher education
Washoe County School District Superintendent Paul Dugan met his sophomore mentee for the first time today at Hug High School. They are participating in ASCENT, All Students College Educated in Nevada Today, a new mentor program sponsored by Hug High and the University of Nevada, Reno.
The program pairs successful members of the community with ambitious high school sophomores to help them reach their goal of attending the University.
"It's the first time in Northern Nevada that the ASCENT mentoring program has been introduced to high school sophomores," said Hug High Principal Andrew Kelly. "We hope to provide the resources and knowledge to help them pursue their dreams of attending the University. After completing the three-year program, many of the sophomores will be the first in their family to attend a University."
ASCENT will connect more than 200 sophomores at the high school with community mentors, who are asked to commit one to three hours a month with the student to discuss college applications, financial aid, goals, scholarships and career options. It is a three-year program, and topics will change from year to year based upon the mentee's individual goals and timelines.
University President Milt Glick cited Census Bureau data that notes the average gap in earnings between adults with a bachelor's degree and those with only a high school diploma is about $23,000 a year. "A college degree is an investment," said Glick.
"Postsecondary education strengthens and diversifies Nevada's economy, cultivates a high-skill, high-wage workforce and increases democratic and social participation," he added. "We must close the participation gap, and helping students prepare early on for their eventual college experience can help."
Angie Taylor, an associate vice president for the University and a Hug High graduate, told the students she would not be where she is today without mentors in her life.
"I'm a product of this school and thanks to the people who have helped me along the way, I was able to get my master's and my doctorate degrees, and I am now Doctor Angie Taylor," she said. "And to whom much is given, much is required. Not expected: required. So we need more mentors to step up and help our students."
Glick's wife Peggy, former Nevada women's basketball coach Ada Gee, and local community leaders David Gamble and Leslie Mix were among the other volunteer mentors at the event.
"Many Hug High School students dream of going to college," said Kelly. "However, many students do not have the knowledge, the resources or the positive role models to encourage and guide them to higher education. With a little help from our community leaders, we can change that."