Concordia offers insight to students

Published 8:35pm Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wilcox-Central High School graduate Jarred Walker remembers coming to Concordia College in Selma with his aunt when he was a child.

“She brought me up here several summers. Ever since, I have liked this school and wanted to come here,” said Walker, a Pine Hill resident who will be a freshman at Concordia this fall.

Walker, who received a football scholarship, plans to study business. But before the fall semester starts, he, along with 40 other incoming freshmen, are getting a “taste” of college life.

The young men and women are participating in Concordia’s Academic Boot Camp, a five-week summer program that includes academics, recreation, and counseling on the college campus. Students live on campus for the five weeks, participating in a rigorous schedule of activities.

The program provides a “bridge” for students from high school into college in an effort to help increase academic success as well as staying in school, said program director Reginald Wells.

In addition to getting to know one another, they are matched with upper classmen who serve as “mentors’ in the summer. When school begins, they will become part of the school’s Man Center and Woman Center with special activities and projects throughout the year.

“It really prepares you for school and lets me know what I have to do to stay focused.,” Walker said. “No one is going to get me up in the morning. Nobody is going to stay on me and tell me what to do. I have to do it myself.”

Nate Turner, another Wilcox-Central High School graduate, is following his father and mother who attended Concordia. He begins this fall on a band scholarship.

The rigorous summer schedule is helping him realize how much harder he’s going to have to work in his classes.

“You have to take notes and study,” Turner said.

Joshua Stewart, president of the Student Government Association, said he loves those “lightbulb” moments when an incoming student “gets it.”

The 8-hour day starts at 6 a.m. with a morning inspiration session. Three classes offered are fitness and health, U.S. history and orientation to college. Students study for classes in the afternoon, followed by intramural sports of basketball, track, conditioning (weights) and swimming.

After dinner, there’s more studying, counseling and an hour of personal time before lights out at 10 p.m..

Weekends include trips to a professional baseball game in Montgomery, the aquarium and Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, and a visit to Civil Rights sites in Atlanta.

Iyona Smith, a Dallas County High School graduate, grew up in a house full of boys. When she arrived at Concordia this summer, she was excited to learn she had a “big sister.”

“I’m the only girl in my family. I have all brothers. I have never had a sister before,” Smith said of her mentor. “She’s really cool. I feel so blessed.”

Kayla Dulaney, a Wilcox-Central graduate, said the first few days were rough, but she has adjusted to it and enjoys learning.

“The classes are really good. I’m learning a lot,” Dulaney said.

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