Colleges spring tour gives students an important experience


Dr. Carlos Grant (via Twitter @DrCarlosGrant)

One of the Cedar Rapids students’ college visits was at Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana.

From March 26 to April 2 about 45 students from the Cedar Rapids and Marion area went on a college tour visiting HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Led by tour guide George Ramsey, the experience gives students the chance to see and explore the opportunities that various colleges have, as well as consider the challenges of college learning and life.

“I enjoyed the overall experience of learning what is out in the world and what opportunities I’m open to as an African American,” said Gisele Anderson-Pledge. She is a freshman at Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School.

Students met early at Washington High School on March 26 to experience four hours of bonding activities as they waited for their bus to arrive and the trip to get underway.

Dr. Carlos Grant, the principal of Washington, organized the activities to be physically, emotionally and mentally challenging, designed so students learned to work together and communicate with a new group of people.

“The biggest difficulty for me was coming out of my comfort zone,” said Trinity Glover, a junior at Washington. “I got kind of emotional from sharing a picture of my dad I and then talking to the group about the value of this photo.”

Grant said he used the tour experience to help students get out of their comfort zone and gain a different level of personal comfort.

“The trip was important to my continued growth as a student. I’ve always done good in school, and I’m striving to do better,” said Tatiana Warden, a sophomore at Kennedy High School.

Students got to visit larger colleges, like Jackson State University, and even small schools, like Paul Quinn. A focus of this year’s trip was on Grambling State University.

Cadaris Waits, the tour guide at Jackson State University, told the Iowa students, “”Y’all were my best group, the curiosity and interactive nature of y’all was enjoyable.”

Students said that the family-like vibes and the social environment of the trip attracted them to going. Next year’s college picks and tour dates are weeks away from being released.

Students in grades 9 through 12 are eligible. The Cedar Rapids Community School District gives out scholarships to help pay for students in financial need to attend the tour.

In addition, the tour itself pays for all seniors to apply to all schools for free.