NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–The phrase “dream, believe, succeed” is more than just a decorative motto on the t-shirts designed for the Rutgers Future Scholars (RFS) program.
Dr. Eve Remsen Sachs, program coordinator of the Rutgers Future Scholars, discussed the program’s functions and objectives.
“The purpose is to offer hope, opportunity, and the promise of scholarship support if admitted to college,” Sachs said.
In 2007, the Board of Governors and Rutgers President Richard L. McComick initiated a coordinated system of support for promising students with limited financial resources, she said.
The RFS has expanded its executive action on the communities in Newark, Camden, Piscataway, and New Brunswick to select 50 new rising 8th-graders every year and ensure a demographic representation of New Jersey citizens at the university.
“Every country in the world is represented in this program, such as Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. We are so representative. Our students are bilingual in so many languages,” she said.
As early as 7th grade, the program coordinators and staff reinforce the students’ intellectual power, prompting them to change their attitudes towards life and opportunity.
The academic program allows them to feel a sense of belonging towards the Rutgers community by attending athletic and academic occurrences such as football games on campus.
Furthermore, 9th grade students are exposed to college level courses and after 10th grade they receive college credit.
The program’s eligibility ensures talented students to continue their education by earning a high school diploma and a college degree despite the families’ financial status.
Firstly, potential candidates must be rising 8th graders. Secondly, they must be the first generation to attend college. Thirdly, they must meet specific economic data. Finally, they must be recommended by a school teacher or counselor.
“During the yearly welcome celebration which introduces 200 Scholars on stage, the tears on the faces of the parents touch me deeply because no one in that room ever went to college,” she said.
The relationship between Rutgers and the city of New Brunswick has enhanced the program’s purpose and action within the local communities.
This collaboration has allowed program coordinators to share human-interest stories featuring scholars who succeeded in their endeavors at various schools and also inform students on the application process.
The warmth and care of the New Brunswick institutions towards the program’s initiatives contributed to the increase of students’ admissions at Rutgers University in the last years.
As a result of such a cooperation, rising 11th graders have been offered summer paid internships at the court house and mayor’s office.
“The program is so fortunate to have wonderful donors. Most scholars are enjoying paid summer internship and summer courses such as robotics, music, and chess thanks to donations by Wells Fargo, AT&T and others,” she says.
Christopher, age 17, shared his perspective on the program’s ability to direct students on their pre-college experience.
“It is a great program. I have started as a Scholar and now I am actually working with Dr. Sachs on various projects while running the office,” he said.
Philippe, age 15, says he was skeptical when he first joined the program in 7th grade. However, the positive relationship between the coordinators and the scholars contributed in building trust and respect.
“I do not feel it is a teacher-student relationship at this point. They have offered me guidance since 7th grade. We became friends,” he said.