Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Another Great Year Working with Bridgeport Soon-To-Be-Graduates Through the College Assistance Program

The Annual CAP Selfie with Yolehema Felican of M.A.A.C.S.
For the fourth year in a row, I've worked with wonderful staff of the M.A.A.C.S. program of Bridgeport (Motivation for Academic Achievement and College Success), part of the Bridgeport Higher Education Fund. During spring break, invited seniors are brought to Housatonic Community College to stay on track for graduation and their soon-to-arrive entrance into higher education. They've asked me to provide 90 minutes of advice to get them thinking about next steps.

I was impressed that this year, after both sessions, students - especially male students who are self-proclaimed haters of reading and writing - came up to me to say, "Thank you." The session is highly interactive, I share stories of successful students, and I challenge them to take more initiative to find their passions, challenge the histories being written for them, and exhibiting control over their literacy. "You should all have a list of five books you want to read between now and the first day of your college classes."

At first they snickered. By the end of the presentation, they tell me they want more advice on books they should look for in the local library.

It's the power of storytelling, and in the workshop I tell stories of achievement, especially of young people who took ownership of their education to do remarkable things.

My advice? Well, I always keep it to a top-ten list.

  1. Know your passions.
  2. Be ready for T.R.A.N.S.I.T.I.O.N.S. (to write fluidly in college).
  3. College writing is about finding your voice.
  4. The best writers are clever with language (and titles).
  5. The better college writers vary their word choice.
  6. Writers read for deeper meaning while in college.
  7. Writers in college question the Universe.
  8. Writing in college is a quest for textual evidence.
  9. College writing requires intense development of thought.
  10. College writers write, rewrite, revise, & rewrite again.
I'm thankful to my ol' Affrilachian poet friend, Frank X. Walker, too, who provided a poem that was used to dissect, make a point, and to rest my case. Of course, the workshop tires me out (because I'm old), but I totally love the drive of the youth and the dedicated people, such as Yolehema, who work with them on a daily basis.

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