Struggling Pinellas students set sights on college

Young students get college experience

Education leaders at USF St Pete are making a big push to inspire kids at some of the worst elementary schools in the state to go to college.

Friday's target: Fifth graders at Fairmount Park Elementary School, the 2nd worst school in Florida, and dubbed one of the "failure factories" in St. Pete.

Many kids have never once stepped foot on a college campus-- let alone dreamed of going to one as a student—but Friday, that all changes.

USF St Pete is partnering with Pinellas County Schools to make students at the 5 schools struggling the most get this opportunity and to show the students that college not only helps them get ahead in life, but can be fun.

"Kids don't always see school as a positive thing. They don't want to go to school, they don't see it as fun, they don't see it as important but when we do the field trips here they are smiling ear to ear, the kids are having a blast and more importantly the kids are learning," explained Harris Ambush, who coordinates the program at USF's St Pete College of Education.

College students also volunteer to mentor elementary school students though their middle and high school years to encourage them to reach for their goals.

The other obstacle for the kids is paying tuition since so many come from low income families. Ambush says USF St Pete is working to get scholarships in the works specifically for the Pinellas County kids that come on the field trips.

For many, if they choose to go to college, they'll be the first in their families to do so and that's a pretty outstanding accomplishment.


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