Bulldog Flash Academic Institute prepares Canton City Schools students for a university education
The distance between downtown Canton and New York City is 444 miles, but the journey for aspiring fashion designer Andrea McEaddy begins at her hometown university.
On the campus of Kent State University at Stark, the 15-year-old McKinley High School junior learned about pursuing her dream this summer as part of the Bulldog Flash Academic Institute.
“Being on a college campus really gives us a great introduction of what college will be like,” McEaddy said. “Coming here together, we have established a common goal that we can make it.”
McEaddy is a member of the inaugural 2017 Bulldog Flash class of 33 McKinley High School students. Earlier this summer, the campus welcomed its 2018 Bulldog Flash class of 25 students. The program was made possible by a partnership launched in 2016 between Kent State University at Stark and Canton City Schools.
The Bulldog Flash Academic Institute helps eliminate barriers to success and focuses on developing study skills, time management, team building/collaboration, choosing a major and academic preparation. Often the first in their families to go to college, students may lack the necessary resources to prepare them for study at a university.
Bulldog Flash participants earn admission to Kent State University and renewable scholarships to cover tuition, creating a pathway to higher education.
During their second summer experience on campus, the 2017 cohort took part in themed activities, such as a Cultural Competency Day. McEaddy and her classmates learned about the history of Puerto Rico and took salsa-dancing lessons.
“Cultural competency is an important takeaway from a university education,” said Sarah Schmidt, coordinator of the Office of Global Education Initiatives. “How can we be a part of our interconnected world without it?”
Students also took a walking tour of downtown Canton, visiting the renovated Hercules building, the Canton Museum of Art and JAA Dessert Studio and Café, among other local businesses.
“We wanted them to see they are valuable, and their city is valuable,” said Kristin Wray, director of the Bulldog Flash Academic Institute. “There are so many misconceptions out there, and this program is about rising above.”
Wray said an important component of the program is pairing Bulldog Flash students with campus mentors who can answer questions and provide support and encouragement.
McEaddy has always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and was thrilled to discover Kent State University’s Fashion School. She said:
“It’s like you have this passion and when you find out there’s a program out there for you, a university where you can feel like you’re home; it makes you want to keep striving.”
It makes any distance, even 444 miles, one worth traveling.