CAS-Carrera gets a “J.U.M.P.” on College Prep

June 22, 2012

In March 2012, 18 CAS-Carrera participants from the Academy for Scholarship and Entrepreneurship (ASE) and the Opportunity Charter School (OCS) traveled upstate to be a part of Binghamton University’s Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program (J.U.M.P. Nation).

In 1991, students at Binghamton University (previously referred to as the State University of New York at Binghamton) launched J.U.M.P. Nation as a way to introduce middle school students of color to the college experience. Since then, eighth grade students from a rotating pool of New York City schools are selected to participate in the annual J.U.M.P. Nation weekend. Middle school protégés are paired with mentors from Binghamton University to form a network of support and encouragement as they work towards their post-secondary education. At the heart of J.U.M.P. Nation is a four-day, all-expenses-paid weekend of forums, workshops, and a primer on college life at Binghamton University's campus.

CAS-Carrera College Coordinator Felipe Ayala, Jr. – and CAS-Carrera program alumnus -- is a staunch advocate of the program. He has good reason: Felipe was a mentor himself during his tenure at Binghamton University, where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees. “I send the kids because it’s a program that makes them think twice about dropping out of school…I saw a lot of kids’ lives change over the years.” This year’s cohort of eighth graders marks the third time CAS-Carrera has been selected to attend.

Many CAS-Carrera participants are English Language Learners, have special needs, and live in communities with high rates of poverty, unemployment and teen pregnancy. While these are all formidable barriers to completing high school, the comprehensive and integrated services -- such as J.U.M.P. Nation – that are provided year-round by CAS-Carrera ensure these young people are poised to represent the first in their family to attend college.

We spoke to three OCS eighth graders to learn more about their experiences: Mark, Jeremy, and Alexis.

Unlike most eight graders, this well-traveled trio has already visited Brown, Columbia, Mercy, Monroe, Princeton, SUNY Maritime and UCONN among them. At Binghamton, they were feted at a welcoming party with fellow protégés and mentors, and enjoyed games and activities in the gym. In addition, they were invited into lecture halls, toured campus facilities, and stayed overnight in the dorms of student hosts.

Jeremy, a soft-spoken A-Rod fan, shows his school spirit with OCS’ cheerleading team and is contemplating studying technology and dance. His mentor helped Jeremy set up a Gmail account and gave him a SUNY Binghamton hoodie, which he wears with pride over his school uniform. And while Mark preferred SUNY Maritime, he enjoyed the opportunity to observe a math lecture and the wide-open spaces of the large campus. “I wanted to stay a month.” Likewise, Alexis “fell in love” with SUNY Binghamton where she felt “safe on campus…the cars stop for you!” For now, she has her sights set on UCONN and its world-renowned basketball program.

The four-day trip is only the beginning of their involvement in J.U.M.P. Nation, since they will work closely with their mentors through high school and college admission, and develop friendships with fellow protégés.

If you would like to help young people like Mark, Jeremy and Alexis prepare a solid foundation for college and beyond, please donate here.