imageFor the past two years, School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC) instructor Wendy Ames Dionísio has taught business writing to high school students who participate in the Oregon Young Scholars Program (OYSP) at the University of Oregon (UO).

For one week during the summer, forty high school students from the Eugene and Portland areas study math and writing while getting the full college experience by living in dorms with a roommate, dining on campus and collaborating on group projects. All students also participate in one of five other academic cohorts, as well as a social justice cohort.

The goals of the OYSP are to increase interest in college enrollment to needs-based and underrepresented students and to help build family and community support in higher education. Students participating in the program are the first in their families to attend college. This year’s program took place July 12–18.

“My course helps students develop biographies, resumes, personal branding messages and college application materials to support their academic progress beyond high school,” says Ames Dionísio.

UO faculty and instructors serve as OYSP teachers, helping students learn about the college application process and how to prepare and pay for college. During the week, participants also learn about the importance of volunteering and community engagement.

“This year’s program was fantastic. I had 19 incoming high school freshman and juniors complete a resume by the end of the week,” Ames Dionísio says. “They are now prepared to network, search for summer jobs and apply for scholarships and programs to support their academic path.”

Beyond the OYSP program, Ames Dionísio says program participants keep in touch with students to offer continued support.

“There are dinners and events held throughout the year to keep them connected and inspired,” she says. “I am personally available as a resource to them as they approach the college application process, but honestly, by the time they get to that point, with the support of their high school counselors, they are often 100% successful on their own.”

Ames Dionísio hopes the OYSP will continue to grow. She said she is proud of this year’s participants and plans to teach in next summer’s program.

Story by Corinne Boyer