It takes a village to raise a child. That African proverb has been used so much that it has become cliché, but sometimes there is no better way to express an idea than through such a well-worn and well-understood phrase.
The Public Schools of Robeson County, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and Robeson Community College recently formed a village on the college’s campus to serve 86 Robeson County schoolchildren in one of four camps as part of Project ACCESS.
Project ACCESS is a four-year, $2.4 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education. ACCESS stands for Achieving College Opportunities, Community Engagement, and Student Success, and is a partnership between the entities above, plus The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
The goal of the project, which is in its second year, is to improve access to higher education and career preparedness for American Indian youths in Robeson County.
AIMS stands for Acquiring Interest in Math and Science and Camp AIMS gave rising fourth- and fifth-grade students a chance to get a hands-on look at that world. Students spent time swabbing items, such as vending machines and water fountains, across campus and from those swabs they grew bacteria that they viewed under a microscope.
Stephanie Chavis said her son Seth, a rising fourth-grader, had shown an interest in science, but the camp really allowed him to experience science hands-on. Participating in the dissection of a pig gave him the opportunity to see if he could tolerate what some might find objectionable.
Those experiences helped confirm that her son would find a science-related career rewarding, she said.
Seventh- through 10th-grade students worked in groups to build and load software onto five computers in the Summer Fun Meets Real Computer Skills Camp. These students also learned programming and networking skills.
Eighth- through 11th-graders attended an Industrial Technologies Camp, where they learned welding skills on the college’s virtual welders and built DC motors. These students also spent time building a simple air conditioning unit, wiring a light bulb to a switch, and observing RCC’s robotics lab in action.
They realized a practical application of math in plumbing by calculating the necessary drop for a drain line to work properly. These activities allowed students to experience each of the program areas offered in RCC’s Industrial Technologies program — Electrical, Industrial systems, Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration, and Welding.
Tina Locklear said her son Eli was hesitant to attend at first because of his lack of familiarity with industrial technologies, but his perspective changed after his first day.
“This is the first camp that I have not had to struggle to get him to in the morning. Each day he was ready to go,” she said.
Locklear’s daughter, Jadyn, attended Camp Scrubs while her brother was in the Industrial Technology Camp. Camp Scrubs attendees were rising ninth- through 12th-grade students. They received an in-depth look into health careers, specifically the five health science areas offered at RCC — Nursing, Radiography, Emergency Medical Science, Respiratory Therapy, and Surgical Technology. Locklear said Jadyn has always had an interest in science, but has had difficulty deciding on a career. The hands-on activities have sparked an interest in respiratory therapy for her.
Robeson Community College’s William Locklear and the Lumbee Tribe’s Rita Locklear coordinated the camps.
“It’s been an exciting week for all who participated in the camps. It was fun, educational, and hands-on, with campers getting to know our top-notch faculty and other professionals,” William said.
Locklear added that the camps gave students an opportunity to explore what they might want to do in the future.
Rita Locklear echoed that sentiment.
“We believe the more early opportunities are given to students to experience careers and college firsthand, the more equipped they will be when making choices in high school and beyond,” she said.
Dennis Watts is the public information officer for Robeson Community College.