Selma Early College students making the grade

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

The thought of agriculture usually conjures thoughts of open fields and a somewhat easygoing life.

But students in Selma High’s Early College High School (SECHS) program know better than that.

The program, in its second year of existence, sponsored a trip to St. Louis for the 21st annual Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) career fair and training conference.

The purpose of the trip is to open students’ eyes to career opportunities in expanding fields, including agriculture.

“This is the only program like this in the state,” said SECHS director Irene Smith. “I believe there are 65 like it in the country. We try to key in on first-generation college-goers. The students in this program have to be self-motivated.”

About 80 students are making the trip.

The Early College program was formed in conjunction with the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering (SECME). SECME was formed in 1975 by the engineering deans at Alabama, Florida, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Tennessee, Tennessee State, and Tuskegee. The organization promotes diversity and the development of leadership and career skills for the youth in its programs.

Smith said the key to the program is to get the students in early.

Children begin as early as ninth grade and eventually begin taking college-level courses.

All ninth graders are eligible for the trip, and 10th graders had to complete a project to go.

With the help of a $2,500 donation from probate judge candidate Kobi Little and the Transcendent Leadership Institute and Community Development Corporation and numerous other sponsors, Selma’s Early College students will have the opportunity to see opportunities that extend beyond what they already know.

“We are extremely happy to have the opportunity to support our young people as they pursue their dreams,” Little said. “We will continue to support this work, and we will continue to invite others to partner with and strengthen the Selma Early College High School. We envision the day when every child in Dallas County has the opportunity to participate in this wonderful program.”