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Camp gives students a taste of college life
About 40 high school students from the Yuma area and Parker spent the past week getting a taste of what it's like to live as a college student.
The Go Green Engineering Camp at Arizona Western College was a partnership of AWC and Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds initiative. The media company is spending $100 million over five years to increase awareness of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education among youths.
Each student, who will either be in the freshman or sophomore class in the coming semester, was assigned a roommate and lived in the dormitories at AWC during the week.
“They have lived here the entire time on the campus,” said Terry Shove, AWC director of educational talent search and Upward Bound. “They moved in Sunday night and are going home Saturday with their parents. It has been a good week and the students have had a really good time and learned a lot of things.”
The students ate their meals in the cafeteria and worked together on STEM projects, including solar experiments and robotics.
Andy Lopez and Rosa Valencia, both 15, built an electric guitar using a sensor module and Legos pieces.
“They said we could build whatever we want, but no machine guns,” Lopez said as he and his partner laughed. “I suggested the guitar.”
“At first I didn't know how we would control it, but after we made it, the sound was pretty cool, like a real guitar,” Rosa added.
The students also visited the University of Arizona in Tucson and the world-famous Biosphere nearby.
The students come from low-income families, and if they decide to attend college after they graduate in a few years, will be the first in their family to pursue a higher education.
“It was awesome,” said 15-year-old Hailey Ferris. “You have more freedom, and you get to meet new people instead of sticking to a group you know from home, especially when you have a roommate you don't know.”
Ferris, who lives in Parker, had never met her roommate, who was a high school student from Yuma. “She is really nice,” she said, noting she has grown fond of her new friends. “I kind of missed home but I think I am going to miss here, too.”
Justin Mooneyham, 15, said adjusting to a community bathroom in the dorms wasn't difficult. “You've just got to schedule who gets to go in first and how that happens.”
Lopez discovered how much food prices can add up over the course of a week.
“One thing I learned is in five days I wasted about $60 on breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said, noting he now understands why college students live on instant noodles and water.
Angel Cruz, 14, enjoyed learning about college life.
“It was different and we did a bunch of things I've never done before. It was pretty cool because it felt like I was actually living like a college student.”
The experience has heightened Cruz's desire to attend college.
“I actually wanted to go to college already because I want to be a doctor, but they made it sound more interesting and made me want to go even more.”
Getting young students interested in a college career was a major goal of the camp, said Nolan Walker, a Time Warner Cable technology operations supervisor who was one of many company employees who mentored the students this week.
“This is something that hopefully opens another door for them. It helps our communities, it helps our families and it helps the children themselves.
“I spent the week building cool robots with the kids and they are sharp. This was a really good experience for me, and I plan on doing it next year. Hopefully we will continue the tradition.