THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Educational empowerment is the goal of the 12th Annual College Round-Up, set to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Thomas S. Fleming Building on Edgecombe Community College’s Tarboro campus.
“It helps empower them and makes them feel more secure in their educational future,” event coordinator Fay Smith stated.
Student registration for the Round-Up begins at 8 a.m. The event is free.
“Students are able to apply to any school in attendance,” Smith said. “A lot of these students walk away being accepted to five or six schools.”
Thirty institutions of higher learning from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama will be represented at the College Round-Up. High-school seniors planning to apply to colleges that day should bring several copies of their academic transcripts with them. Students’ application fees will be waived.
“Many colleges actually give a full scholarship based on those transcripts. There are colleges there that suit every need …We hope that every child who comes will leave enrolled in a college or university,” said Lovie Rooks of College Round-Up and the Beta Zeta Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, which is hosting its 16th annual youth symposium in conjunction with the Round-Up.
Smith said she expects between 800 and 1,000 students to attend the event. Smith’s cousin Robert “Bob” Whitehead started the event/scholarship fund in 2002.
“Every year it keeps growing and getting bigger,” Smith said. She said the College Round-Up began based on the premise that every student with a desire to attend college should have the opportunity, regardless of socioeconomic status.
The guest speaker at the Round-Up, Lee Farrow, a motivational speaker/ life coach, grew up as one of 10 children on a farm in rural North Carolina during the era of racial segregation. Hard work and service to humanity were instilled into Farrow during her childhood and have guided her in her career. Currently, Farrow works at Boston Rising, a fund based in Boston that seeks to break the generational cycle of poverty, focusing on education and strengthening community social connections.
The College Round-Up gives students a chance to put a “face with a name” by meeting with college representatives, Smith said. Students will have an “array of resources” available to them at the Round-Up, including a representative from the College Foundation of North Carolina to discuss FAFSA (financial aid application), and a representative from the Golden Leaf Foundation to talk about the availability of scholarships, said Smith.
The youth symposium in conjunction with the Round-Up will give middle and high-school students an opportunity for hands-on exploration of career fields in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math.)
“We focus on issues that concern teens and also we place a great focus on STEM and try to encourage the young people to go into STEM fields,” Rooks stated. The theme of the session is “H3 It’s All About Me: Healthy Choices, Healthy Living, Healthy Generations,” addressing topics such as nutrition, fitness, self-esteem and bullying. Playing games and winning prizes will be part of the symposium, in partnership with Girl Scouts USA.
Event coordinators say the relaxed atmosphere of the event is designed to help the students navigate their way to academic success.
“When you’re comfortable when you’re in a situation, you can put your best foot forward,” Smith said. A bag lunch will be provided for the students.
Whitehead’s spirit of giving is a “guiding force” for the College Round-Up, and its success, Smith said. She recalls Whitehead always telling her, “I just want you to give something back.”
A sold-out fundraising event Friday evening will raise money for the Robert A. Whitehead Scholarship fund. To make a donation to the College Round-Up, send checks payable to “College Round-Up” to P.O. Box 1501, Tarboro, NC 27886.