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Associated Black Charities Donates to Chesapeake College

Funds will be used for FOCUS program

Posted on Friday, May 13, 2011

WYE MILLS – The Associated Black Charities (ABC) recently awarded Chesapeake College with a $5,000 grant for a program designed to help first-time, first-generation male students.

Ashyrrah Dotson, Eastern Shore program coordinator for ABC, said the grant was awarded to Chesapeake through her organization’s "More in the Middle" initiative.

Specifically, the funds will be used for the college’s First-Generation Opportunities for Career and Ultimate Success (FOCUS) Program, which is coordinated through the Office of Student Success.

In the FOCUS program, the participants receive guidance and monitoring from Chesapeake staff. Director of Multicultural Affairs Richard Potter said the students come to weekly meetings where they set goals, receive tutoring and discuss their progress.

Fourteen students are in the program this semester and most are enrolled in developmental courses, according to Potter.

"We want the students to be successful and we can help them by encouraging them to set goals and how to stay on track," Potter said. "Sometimes that means they need tutoring in a class or help in developing an academic plan and career goals."

Director of First-Year Programs Dana Bowser said that in addition to guiding the participants through the academic maze, she and Potter hope to encourage the students to make good choices and set goals.

They’ve done just that according to FOCUS participants. Jeff Holmes of Temple Hills said he came to Chesapeake College focused on playing basketball, not on academics or his future beyond the court.

"Ms. Bowser and Mr. Potter have gotten me to look ahead. One day the (basket)ball will stop bouncing and I need to be prepared. They’ve shown me what I can do if I work hard. They’ve also shown me that there is help and encouragement out there, but that you have to work for it," Holmes said. "They are my mentors and they’re helping me become a better person."

Chestertown resident Kyle Gadson said that without the FOCUS program, his college experience would be different. A first-generation college student, Gadson finished his high school education through a Graduation Equivalency Diploma (GED) program.

"When I came here, I never expected to be a model student," Gadson said. "I didn’t know I was capable of pushing myself and getting good grades. The FOCUS activities give us encouragement, but they also give us that extra push to work through the tough challenges."

Gadson earned a 3.0 grade point average in the fall semester and now plans to transfer to a four-year college when he leaves Chesapeake. A computer science major, Gadson said he hopes to work in the technology field someday.

"I needed guidance and good advice, and that’s what I’ve gotten at Chesapeake," Gadson said. "I’ve learned that if you apply yourself, people will see some potential in you. Now I want to better myself and achieve more."

Bowser said the ABC grant will be used to offer additional tutoring in core subjects, bring guest speakers to campus and strengthen partnerships with four-year institutions.


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