Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Bridge Offers Help for College Planning

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Bridge Offers Help for College Planning

Article excerpt

Byline: JANELLE THOMAS, Times-Union correspondent

Youths seeking the best job and career strategies heard a strong message recently about the value of higher education at The Bridge of Northeast Florida's fifth annual College Night program.

The event, held in the auditorium of the Beulah Beal Young Parents Center, a Duval County Public Schools alternative school in Springfield, offered area students ages 13 to 18 information about college scholarships and the college experience.

"A lot of our kids do not feel that door is open to them. So it was very important to bring that experience into their lives," said Davalu Parrish, executive director of The Bridge.

Since 1994, the private, non-profit agency has been committed to promoting the development of healthy, productive families. The Bridge has a variety of programs that provide comprehensive educational, social and health programs to those in need. Among the programs is Straight Talk, a combination of sexual health classes, weekly sexuality rap sessions and community outreach available through a partnership with the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation.

The theme for the College Night program was "Yes! I Can Go to College -- The Power of Education." The organization's approach to helping kids realize their educational goals is to provide them with practical advice from people familiar with college life.

Student government members and admissions counselors from Bethune-Cookman College, a private, historically black college in Daytona Beach, served as panelists and informed the audience of teens and parents about subjects ranging from enrollment to pledging to sororities and fraternities, as well as the overall responsibilities that come with living on their own.

"It's almost another lifestyle. You tend to do away with the old and you become an adult," said Brandon Gilbert, a student panelist and senior at Bethune-Cookman College. "It [college] forced me to be responsible."

From the beginning of the event, students were encouraged to take action in planning their academic and financial strategies. At the sign-in table, they were given folders with test and scholarship information, in addition to a ticket giving them a chance to win college paraphernalia in a contest drawing. …

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