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“Swag 2 Success” prepares Middlesboro students for college

From Southeast Ky Community & Technical College -

The week of November 14th 66 sixth graders from Middlesboro Middle School graduated from “SWAG 2 Success,” a new program designed to increase college awareness.


Gear Up and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College partnered to develop the six-week pilot program which ran from October 13-November 18 and featured hands-on sessions in several fields of study including physics, nurse aide, computer information technology, surgical technology, respiratory care, and paramedic.


According to Kim Maynard, senior admission advisor/recruiter at Southeast, “Buffy Dunnaville, Gear Up program manager, and I had been talking about a partner project for several months.”


They decided on the name “Swag To Success,” which stands for Scholars Well–aware of cAreers & colleGe. Their planning stages also included Jacob Mike and Shae Brock, college and career navigators.


“I couldn’t have hand-picked a better group of people to work and partner with on this project,” said Maynard.


Participants were given Southeast identification badges, said Maynard, “to give them first-hand experience of feeling like a college student.” Maynard enlisted Kim Hobbs, financial aid coordinator, and Carla Bennett, success coach/advisor, to help guide them through the college application process as well as complete the FAFSA and apply for scholarships. While on campus, students visited the IDEAS Center to learn about 3D printing and Darrell Walker’s garage to learn about the Diesel Mechanics program. Most of the sessions took place at the Middle School, but the closing ceremony was held in the Educational Alliance Center on the Southeast Middlesboro Campus.


During the graduation ceremony, each student wore their Swag 2 Success T-shirt. They were awarded a Swag 2 Success completion certificate along with a graduation swag bag. Parents and teachers were also in attendance.


“We were really pleased with the program,” said Maynard. “We emphasized the idea that college is not only a dream--it’s a plan. The students were required to write out their plans, both short-term and long-term, so they could better understand the steps to reach their goals.”


In the spring, Maynard said that the program will target 8th graders, and next fall, they anticipate including middle schools from Knox and Harlan counties.

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