“We want to be your partner in helping you reach your passion. Helping you become who you want to be.” - Melody Tankersley

They arrived one by one to applause, cheers and a marching band.


Not the typical welcome to a student’s first day of high school, but these freshmen were not just showing up for classes. They were entering their first day in their school’s new College and Career Academies program.  


In all, more than 200 freshmen at Akron’s Firestone High School are now part of an educational partnership between the Akron Public Schools and Kent State University. Having cheerleaders, faculty and band members celebrate each student as they entered the front doors set the tone for the energy this new partnership offers.


“What we’re really here for is you. Pure and simple,” said Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., senior associate provost and dean of Graduate Studies at Kent State. “To make sure you have the opportunities, the experiences, and the support that you can go anywhere you want to. You can dream and be anything you want to be.”


Each student will spend their ninth-grade year in the school’s “Freshman Academy” where they will learn skills necessary to be successful in high school, complete career exploration activities, and visit college campuses.


After this exploration, students choose an academy and pathway for their 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years. At Firestone High School, students can choose from three academies aligned with Kent State’s top programs:


  • Kent State University Academy of Advanced Technology and Comprehensive Engineering (Digital Science, Mechatronics, “Project Lead The Way” Aerospace)
  • Kent State University Academy of Design (Entrepreneurship, “Project Lead The Way” Architecture, Product & Fashion Design, Visual Art & Design)
  • Kent State University Academy of Performing Arts (Dance, Instrumental, Theater & Film, Vocal)


Six university leaders joined school administrators at the first assembly to welcome students and to lay the groundwork for helping each student to succeed.


“We want to make sure that you feel that Kent State University is part of your community,” said Eboni Pringle, Ph. D., dean of the University College at Kent State. “It’s about the resources and opportunities that Kent State has to offer you right now. You are the thinkers, the innovators, the creators, and the individuals who will solve our biggest world challenges, and we can help you do that.”


The new freshmen also heard from a group of their peers who spent a full week at Kent State’s Kent Campus this summer exploring university programs and learning more about college and careers. Each student was immersed in an authentic college-life experience of living on a university campus, including staying in residence halls and having meals in the dining halls. The Akron Community Foundation and the Sisler McFawn Foundation were the chief sponsors of that weeklong program.


The camp followed a two-day visit In May, when more than 200 Firestone ninth-grade students came to the Kent Campus to watch brief presentations from various colleges and programs.


“It’s about the resources and opportunities that Kent State has to offer you right now,” Pringle said. “Everything we do is about preparing for the next century. There are jobs. There are careers. There are things that we haven’t even thought of that will come and be part of our world. And we want to make sure that each of you are the forefront of that.”

POSTED: Monday, August 27, 2018 - 4:36pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 11:22am
Eric Mansfield