Center for Black Studies hosted Talented Tenth University Menotorship Program

By Jacqueline Evans

DeKalb – The Center for Black Studies hosted the 26th Annual Talented Tenth University Mentorship Program over the weekend.

The program focuses on bringing high school students to NIU and giving them an in-depth look at different aspects of college life. Prospective students received information on financial aid, residence halls and leadership on campus. They also got the chance to stay overnight with a current NIU student.

The program was started in 1983 by the Black Student Union (BSU); the founder of the program and BSU president at the time was able to visit NIU as a high school student, and his experiences led him to attend NIU.

“Coming to NIU for a weekend had a great impact on me, and I knew it would make an even larger impact on other high school students who were debating on attending college,” said Kweli Kwazaa, former BSU President and program founder.

Kwazaa is a Chicago Public School teacher and commits to the program during his free time. He said his program is designed to benefit a certain type of student.

“We try to capture those who are on the borderline and need that push,” said Kwazaa. “If we expose high school students to the college atmosphere, they’ll know they can do it too.”

The students who participated attend an array of high schools. Students are hand selected by Kwazaa.

In addition to academic information, high school students went to Huskie Den for bowling and went to a HipHop Summit.

Students who hosted high school students felt that this was an important event.

“I think it was important for them to…get a glimpse of the college life.” said Tamika Jackson, sophomore history teacher certification major. “The program gives them more to consider when they choose which college they want to attend.”

Jackson said she thought it was important for prospective students to see all aspects of a college, not just the academic side.

“It was good for students to see the academic and social side of NIU,” she said. “This is a well rounded university.”

Other host students felt that the program would help the high school students increase their knowledge about college.

“They need to expand their horizon and the program does that,” said Farouk Olayiwola, sophomore communications major and vice president of the BSU. “Many of the students came from Chicago Public Schools, and many are only thinking about attending community college; we help them explore their real options.”

The overnight stay and attending college classes brought new insights to the high school students.

“They got a taste of reality,” Olayiwola said. “They got to see classes and how college works, and that it’s not just partying. There’s work to be done too.”

Students who hosted said they felt the program went well and left their mentee’s with special messages.

“I told them to stay focused and that college is a balance,” Olayiwola said. “You can have fun and go to parties but you must also do your work.”