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Education Department hosts College Admissions Panel

BIG CYPRESS — Tribal students arrived by the busload for the Education Department’s College Admissions Panel on May 2.

Eighth-grade students and high school students met at the Big Cypress Community Center for a Q-and-A session with representatives from seven Florida universities: Florida International University, Johnson & Wales University, Full Sail University, Florida Gulf Coast University, University of Miami, Edison State College and Florida Atlantic University.

“We do this to get kids engaged in questions and answers with the universities,” Education director Emma Johns said. “We recognized that we need to target them younger to begin to expose them to the application process, and we have different colleges here because there are different interests.”

The College Panel consisted of two-year colleges, four-year colleges and trade schools. Representatives spoke on issues like the importance of internships and networking; how to compose admissions essays; and the need to work hard throughout college to ensure that students land jobs after graduation.

“College is not like high school,” said Alain Darang, assistant director of admission for the University of Miami. “In high school, everything is planned out for you. In college, the responsibility falls on you to not only go to class but to reach out to the resources available to you.”

Throughout the event, students took turns asking representatives their individual questions.

“It was helpful because the colleges gave me information about dual majors,” Ahfachkee senior Jonathan Robbins said. “They told me how to go about finding a career path after graduation.”

For eighth-grade Charter School student Jaron Johns, the event exposed him to what’s to come when he begins high school.

“It’s never too early to start,” he said. “I learned there is a lot of importance in going to college and trying your best in school.”

The representatives also touched on diversity in colleges. Florida International University, for example, is a 60-percent minority campus. They encouraged Tribal students to celebrate their heritage and to find ways to get involved on campus in minority programs and clubs.

“All students deserve the privilege and the right to know what kind of opportunities are out there for them,” said Anthony Hyatt, coordinator for undergraduate relations at Florida Gulf Coast University. “It’s important for universities to give them that information.”

Education’s Emma Johns encouraged students to utilize every resource the Tribe offers them for higher education and told students about other upcoming education events, including a three-day boot camp in August that will help students write their admissions essays and complete their college applications.

“It starts now. It starts today,” she told them. “We’re here to let you know what it takes to get into college. The sky is the limit for you.”

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