Alachua and Bradford County high school students will now receive college-level counseling at their local high schools because of SF Achieve, Santa Fe College’s new mentorship program that launched Nov. 4.
The program places Santa Fe college counselors in every high school in Alachua and Bradford counties. The goal is to provide scholarships and textbook stipends, and show high school students higher education options — from community colleges and trade schools to four-year universities.
Quinten Eyman, director of the SF Achieve program said the Alachua County School Board approved the agreement Nov. 2, and P.K. Yonge passed it two weeks later while the Bradford County School Board approved it in October.
More than 70 students have signed up for SF Achieve as of Tuesday, Eyman said.
He said SF Achieve will create more college-aware, college-prepared students.
“We want college to be as big a reality for everybody as possible,” Eyman said. “We look at it as the golden ticket to a better, more prosperous and more satisfying future for everybody.”
There are four SF Achieve trained college coaches who offer one-on-one support, as well as classroom presentations on career exploration, time management and financial aid.
Marie Young is one of the four specialists, working at Buchholz High School, Gainesville High School, North Central Florida Charter School and Pace Center for Girls. She hopes to help students understand what college is really about.
“It’s helping them down the road, but it’s also empowering them right now, to give them a reason for all the hard work that they’re already having to do,” Young said.
Once a student signs up for SF Achieve, they are enrolled in a Canvas course about college readiness, which they complete at their own pace.
From there, students can apply to be an Achieve scholar and commit to be enrolled at Santa Fe College. The Achieve scholarship will fill in gaps between financial aid and what the student is able to contribute.
Robert Gregory is another SF Achieve specialist who works at Newberry High School and Santa Fe High School, among others. He was a high school teacher for almost 20 years.
“What I hope to come out of this is a much better connection to the idea for high school students that going to college isn’t as intimidating or as big of a process as they might think,” Gregory said.
Eyman said he hopes the program, along with the scholarship and book stipends it offers, will inspire high school students to consider higher education as not only an academic decision, but a financial one.
“The college experience is a great one,” Eyman said. “It’s a great personal experience for a lot of people. But really, it’s meant to be a launching pad. It’s meant to be a place from which you can get to that future, to that career, to that starting salary that you want.”
Contact Eve Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @evealanaa.
Eve Thompson is a third-year journalism major covering Santa Fe. In the past, Eve was a News Assistant on the university desk. When she’s not submitting public records requests or staring at a blank Google doc, Eve can be found on a boat, usually listening to 70s music.