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The inaugural cohort of Bridgewater State University's FAM for Change mentoring program have graduated Brockton High School and been accepted to colleges and universities across the commonwealth. In the fall, three of these former mentees will return to BSU, this time as freshmen on full scholarships.
Developed by President Dana Mohler-Faria, FAM for Change pairs BSU mentors with Brockton High freshmen deemed to be at high risk of dropping out. The goal is to help the latter stay in school and excel in their studies. The mentees who successfully complete the program, graduate high school and meet the requirements for entrance into BSU will get to attend the university free of charge.
Georgieanna Bullock, Marco Cobar and Marie Doyon are the first to earn that honor. The trio was excited and relieved that the scholarship lessened the financial burden associated with attending university. "I don't have to worry about that now," said Marie. "That stress is gone."
The students accepted their scholarships at the annual FAM for Change Meet and Greet Dinner, which invites campus community members, and friends and family to welcome to the program new mentors and mentees.
The mentoring program offers more than just free tuition. It also helped the students grow academically and personally. "My mentors made me want to do better," said Marie, who plans to double major in music and sociology. She is already helping young flutists in the BHS band.
The former mentees said they would enjoy becoming FAM for Change mentors. For Georgieanna, mentoring would be "paying it forward." Her BSU mentors introduced her to the college experience, and helped her get accepted to BSU and learn about pursing her passion of teaching.
Early on, one mentor helped her break out of her shell. "I've always been shy," Georgieanna said. "She made me realize it's good to express myself. It was an eye-opening experience."
Kenny Monteiro, FAM for Change's program director, has watched these mentees grow over their four years in the program. All the students in FAM for Change's first class, he said, have learned to take on leadership roles, helping facilitate programming and plan community events, and become mentors themselves. "They've all become leaders in their own ways," he said.
Marco has indeed become a strong leader, thanks to his combined experiences with FAM for Change and the junior ROTC program at BHS, where he is second lieutenant regularly in charge of 30-40 students. Through his experiences, Marco also developed an appetite for community service. Citing his volunteer work for BSU's annual Halloween for Hunger and Hunger Walk food drives, he said: "I realized that there are families that need our help. There are a lot of problems in this world. It really needs leaders."
Marco will do six months boot camp for the U.S. Army before beginning BSU in spring 2013 as a business major.
Hearing that the students were accepted to college was a remarkable moment for Susan McCombe, director of University and Community Partnerships who works with the FAM for Change program. "This is the day we have been waiting for," she said. "I am so proud of these students and our mentors and all they have accomplished."
The other FAM for Change graduates and the institutions to which they were accepted are:
Chastity Gonsalves; Marlyn Jean, UMass-Dartmouth, UMass-Boston, Massasoit Community College; Youssra Abdelmonem, Fisher College, Massasoit; Manuel Pires, Curry College, Becker College; Kristanna Williams, Fisher College, Massasoit; and Justice Steele, Quincy College, Massasoit, Bristol Community College. Rosey Pauyo, Angel Gonzalez, Jasmin Leite, Amanda Gabourel, William Quiles, Cyril Neal, Theophile Victoria, and Maceo Campbell, will be attending Massasoit.
Caption: At the FAM for Change Meet and Greet Dinner are (from left) Kenny Monteiro, Marie Doyon, Marco Cobar, Georgeanna Bullock, Susan McCombe and Diane Bell, director of community service center.