ST. PETERSBURG — The AKA AKAdemy and Pathfinders Program continued a 20 year tradition of prepping high school age youth for their annual college tour. Last Sat., March 28, 53 high schoolers met at Sylvia’s Soul Food Restaurant for a day of information and camaraderie.
Parents and college tour participants filled the upstairs ballroom area of the revitalized Manhattan Casino for breakfast and an orientation on the three-day tour to four Florida College and University campuses that started Monday.
The ninth through 11th graders toured the University of North Florida and Edward Waters College on Monday, Florida A & M University and the Florida State Legislature in Tallahassee on Tuesday. On the last leg of the college tour, they visited Florida State University on Wednesday.
“This is our program where we provide youth activities for students in grades six through 12,” said Program Director for the AKAdemy, Manita Moultrie.
The tour of the Florida State Capital and the Legislature were compliments of State Representative Darryl Rouson.
According to Moultrie, the AKAdemy College Tour provides multiple benefits to the future prospective college students.
“Many of the students who visit the campuses get excited about college life, get to talk to students who are on campus, learn experiences from others and get motivated to do better and get their grades in order to actually attend college,” said Moultrie.
Putting a face on the reality of going to college is definitely a powerful motivator.
“A lot of kids want to do better, but they don’t know how to,” said Spencer Colquitt, Pathfinder leaders.
Colquitt said it is important to get kids to realize that they have many career path choices.
“We help them be the best possible person they can be through academics, through leadership and learning how to interact with other people…and learning that there are other paths. Not everyone needs to dunk a basketball, not everyone’s going to be a rap star…have a different path.”
In addition to realizing career paths, the young men and women were counseled on appropriate dress and language to use while on tour. They were told that they would be representing the City of St. Pete, their community, their schools and their parents.
The AKA AKAdemy is structured to focus on the developmental needs of adolescent teen girls (Exquisite Gems) and boys (Pathfinders) beginning in sixth grade and following them through high school graduation. Mentors work with them promoting high academic achievement and healthy lifestyles that will bring economic security to their future families. Hundreds of students are served each year with funding made possible by the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County.
Chaperones for the tour this year included Evyan Gordon, Denise Smith, Dr. Marilyn Fudge for the Exquisite Gems and Spencer Colquitt and Ivan Tucker for the Pathfinders. Youth this year was Aaliyah A. Buchanan, a Gibbs High School honor student.