Newark resident assists youths through Rutgers Future Scholars, nonprofit initiative
Encouraging high school students to pursue a college degree is a major issue today, but a Rutgers program aims to change that.
Rutgers Future Scholars, a program provided by Rutgers University—Newark, encourages teenagers to attend college and supports them throughout their academic years.
The program is a five-year pre-college initiative that provides students with a variety of courses, said Corey James, the program coordinator. The program assists students with their high school academics and prepares them for college.
Students come to the Rutgers campus every other Saturday during the academic year, as well as over four weeks of the summer, James said.
To partake in the program, members must be a first-generation student, come from a low-income family and attend a school in the city of Newark, James said. The program allows potential students who apply and are accepted into Rutgers to have their tuition paid for.
Sophia Samuel, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said the program is a good idea because many families struggle to send their kids to college.
"I think those people should have the opportunity to attend college despite maybe having financial issues,” she said.
Whether the program is beneficial or not depends on the demographic of students that it is targeting, said Daniel Chan, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
James said he is also the founder of another mentorship called "Painting Pictures." The program provides mentorship to urban youth and helps behavioral and structural development while also creating a "tangible awareness for young people."
James said he helps young adults envision attaining higher education and a better quality life.
“Painting Pictures strives to make the community a better place by counseling young adults in the justice system and further reducing the recidivism rate," he said. "Painting Pictures, Inc. hopes to change the attitude of the community from one of frustration and despair to one of hope and optimism."
James hopes to prevent drug abuse and crime while simultaneously encouraging young adults to become contributors to society. While this is no easy task, change can take place gradually, until eventually this new generation breaks the cycle that it has inherited, he said.
Students are usually referred to this program by their teachers or other youth programs, with further information found online.
James is also the author of "Painting Pictures: Reframing the World of Inner City Youth."
“This book brings you into the harsh and complex world in which our urban youth struggle, and you will hear first-hand accounts of the alarming images and circumstances inner-city youth must overcome” James said.
It tells the story of young adults who have grown in disadvantaged neighborhoods and how they inherit the stereotypes that come along with these areas, he said. They learn at a young age that they must comply with the rules of the street or become victim to it.
His goal in writing the book is for his readers to gain an understanding of the trauma that some urban youth experiences, as well as the motives behind its actions.
Most importantly, James wishes for his readers to realize that there is hope for these young adults, and that it is a misconception that children do not desire help. If offered a better lifestyle, James said children will gravitate toward it.
“I remind the reader that defiance stems from the pain of losing the 'game of life,' so then they 'cheat' through illegal means simply because they want to get ahead," he said. "I remind the reader that while the misconception is that cheaters are 'bad,' I see cheaters as someone who wants to win just that badly."
The goal of his book is to encourage his readers to provide the change for these young adults.
“I never saw myself in the field I am in today. My passion still shocks me and shocks those who know me well," he said. "I took a job in the juvenile justice field because I was low on options and income. But as I began to work with this population, I became aware of the tragedies and trauma of the streets, and the mission to make a difference grabbed my heart."
Sofiya Nedelcheva is a School of Engineering first-year student. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @n_sofiyaaa for more.