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Cheyney University Hosts Young Scholars Conference

July 26, 2012

Kia Smith, winner of the PHA All Star Scholar Award, is congratulated by Cheyney University President Michelle Howard-Vital, PHA Executive Director, Kelvin Jerimiah, and program organizer, Samuel Little at the opening event of the Young Scholars Weekend at Cheyney University.

Kia Smith, winner of the PHA All Star Scholar Award, is congratulated by Cheyney University President Michelle Howard-Vital, PHA Executive Director, Kelvin Jerimiah, and program organizer, Samuel Little at the opening event of the Young Scholars Weekend at Cheyney University.

Philadelphia Housing Authority's (PHA) high school-aged residents who have achieved beyond expectations were honored this weekend during a Young Scholars Conference at Cheyney University. Many of these students may be the first in their families to go to college.

Students and parents began their campus visit on Friday morning, July 27, and stayed through mid-afternoon Saturday. In addition to discussing a variety of topics, they were able to experience living on campus.

Samuel Little, Deputy Executive Director for Resident and Community Services, said the program was designed to call attention to the fact that the number of PHA residents going to college needs to increase many times over.  “Students should think about the process while they’re making their way through high school,” Little said. “We often take care of students who are at risk, but forget about those who are achieving. We know our developments are filled with talented, praiseworthy, model students.”
 
“We are excited to be working with Cheyney University so that PHA residents have a chance to attend college and advance themselves personally and professionally,” said Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA's Interim Executive Director. “Higher education is critical in today’s job market which requires high levels of skill, including critical thinking skills.”

Student participants were selected based on their academic performance.  Campus activities included Etiquette, Starting the Race Early and Mentoring workshops as well as Non-violent Principles, Peer Pressure and College is Possible workshops. Breakout sessions covered topics including Social Media and Civil Rights Movement.  

Cheyney University President Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital welcomed the group, “We are pleased to host the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) at Cheyney University this weekend.   Both Cheyney University and the Philadelphia Housing Authority are engaged in the prospects of transforming lives.   We hope to eventually enroll some high achieving students who live in public housing.  We look forward to a continuing partnership with PHA."

Parents attended a Parent Resource Fair and Against All Odds/Maintaining Honor Roll, Breaking Down the Walls & Building Support Roundtable discussions.  All participants had the opportunity to participate in swimming, fitness activities, an evening of karoke and dance, nature walk, poetry slam and talent show.

For a typical campus experience, all participants stayed in campus residence halls and dined at the Ada Georges Dining Hall.  Keynote speakers included Philadelphia Housing Authority  Dr. Samuel Little and Mr. Cheyney University, William Tyreek Walker.

Little pointed out that connecting residents to the right resources, putting them in the right environment with the right set of experiences helps youngsters and parents make an informed decision that can impact the quality of their lives. He also noted that resident leaders requested activities of this kind to promote academic achievement and good citizenship.

“Every student is not an honor roll student, but they do have significant accomplishments,” he said. “One kid who goes to college has an impact on the other kids in the family.”

The conference is one of several initiatives that the housing authority and the University will work closely on it the future. The PHA Board recently executed a memorandum of understanding with Cheyney University to focus on five other initiatives besides the conference. They include internships at the agency for three students, an expansion of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program that promotes the use of netbooks, business training for residents, and continuing education for PHA employees.
 

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, located in Cheyney, PA, is America's oldest HBCU - Historically Black College and University.