The transition to college life can be a significant adjustment for many of our scholars.  The RS college support team pledges to visit every freshman on their college campus during the first year of school. I had the opportunity to visit three of our Cohort VI Scholars in Atlanta and Dallas in early March. Syade Shields at Morehouse College, Adam Iyob at Emory University and Feaven Berhe at Southern Methodist University were all on my travel itinerary. While each of them have had ups and downs adapting to their new environments like most freshmen, I can honestly say that they are thriving and making the most of opportunities presented.

My first visit was with Syade at MorehousSyade Shields Morehouse sign croppede. After our campus tour of the bustling campuses (Morris Brown, Spellman and Clark are all within walking distance,) Syade took me to a hole in the wall soul food restaurant called Busy Bee Café that had the best fried  chicken I’ve had in my life. (You know it’s the truth when Chef Emeril Lagasse’s picture is on the wall along with countless other celebrities.) Syade feels like University Prep more than prepared him for college academics, and has been able to face challenges in his coursework with confidence. He’s quite the social butterfly, no surprise here for those that know Syade. Through personal networking, he landed an internship at a local music promotion company, and has been helping book shows in Atlanta for some big players in the hip-hop world.

Adam Iyob at Emory croppedI then left to visit Adam at Emory. I almost didn’t recognize him as he approached me in his tie and sweater with shades on. He’s really enjoying his courses for the most part, and has been exploring much of what the Emory student body and community has to offer as well as the immediate surroundings of the campus. Adam just started playing Lacrosse and is getting some playing time despite being a freshman. He has a job working in campus technology department and also went through training to become part of a campus emergency response team (for campus wide incidents). Adam was extremely thoughtful, no matter whether reflecting on his own experiences or just deeply analyzing the last movie he saw.

Feaven Berhe SMU sign cropped

Feaven was my last visit, though I barely made it into Dallas. A blizzard almost prevented the plane from landing, and Dallas is by no means ready to deal with snow. Despite this I managed to get to Southern Methodist University through the ice and slush. Feaven is always a pleasure to be around with her sense of humor and general good nature. She is happy at SMU as a whole, and stays very busy through the Physician-Scientist Training Program (PSTP) that she’s been a part of since middle school. She spends a lot of her weekends attending events and hosting younger students on campus that are part of the PSTP program, and also getting to know her other peers. Feaven will be doing medical research this summer in Vancouver, BC, topic yet to be determined.”

Adjusting to a new settings can be challenging, especially when students are faced with doing this thousands of miles away from home. Campus visits are so important in creating tangible support at a stage when students might feel disconnected from Seattle and the RS community. Through my meetings with individual students I reflected on some common themes that emerged – self-exploration through pushing personal boundaries, finding new communities of support, and laying the foundations for pathways beyond college.  I am reminded that ALL of these characteristics embody what it truly means to be a Rainier Scholar.