Over 90 Thomas Jefferson High School students spent part of their first day of school on the University of Rochester's River Campus to kick off the Merchants of Hope Entrepreneurship program. A partnership between Jefferson High and the University's David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity in Science and Engineering, the program provides a learning community for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders.
The program creates an environment that builds on the concepts and practices of entrepreneurship to give students the tools they need to continue their education after high school. The students were on campus today to work on their first project. Their task was to create a bridge using Popsicle sticks, tape, straws, and push pins. These activities foster the entrepreneurial spirit and by being on campus, help students see higher education as a natural part of their futures.
"We want them to be prepared for college," said Beth Olivares, executive director of the Kearns Center. Two days a week, undergraduates from the University will tutor and mentor students, spending Monday evenings at Jefferson and hosting the students on campus each Wednesday.
Throughout the year, the students will also be involved in University activities including athletic events, campus tours, and visits to the art galleries. Last year, participants competed in the Pumpkin Launch along side undergraduates. "It is important to include the students in University events because they're part of our family," added Olivares.