A college education wasn’t a given for Vanessa Herrera. The first generation college student hadn’t considered the benefits of continuing education after high school until she attended a summer program at Penn State. Herrera participated in the Summer College Opportunity Program in Education.
Multicultural Coordinator for the College of Education Charleon Jeffries described SCOPE as a residential summer program lasting four weeks every summer to educate rising high school juniors who are traditionally underrepresented in college. The students take college classes and participate in activities that are designed to teach them about college life.
Runners, walkers and bikers alike will have a chance to exercise in support of a cause at the College of Education’s 9th annual Cycle-Thon & 5K Run/Walk. Proceeds benefit SCOPE. Herrera (senior- rehabilitation and human services) is a current student whose interest in Penn State was sparked through attending SCOPE.
“It just opened my eyes to what a higher education had to offer me,” Herrera said. “As a first generation student, I wasn’t really exposed to what college was like but coming to the program I saw college as a possibility for me.”
Ramon Guzman (freshman- mathematics and second education) said he remembered a ropes course activity which taught him the importance of stepping out of his comfort zone in order to explore new experiences.
“It was a big exposure to college, and also reaffirmed that college wasn’t [just] an option, that it was a determining factor—that I was going to do it,” Guzman said.
Assistant Dean of Multicultural Programs María J. Schmidt said her favorite part of the program was getting to see the students’ progression throughout their time during the program.
“When you validate a person, in this case we’re validating them as learners, and provide them with a real hope that ‘yes, you can be [in college],’ what a difference it makes,” she said.
While the program primarily attracts students from Pennsylvania, Jeffries said students have come from as far as California to participate in the program.
All of the proceeds from the Cycle-Thon & 5K go directly to benefit SCOPE, said Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for the College of Education Phil Hoy, adding that the Cycle-Thon & 5K is typically able to raise enough to bring three to four more students to the program.
Hoy said the event has enjoyed “well over” 100 participants in years past, adding that it is a community event for the whole family. The event will include a picnic lunch, children’s activities, and an opportunity to meet the Nittany Lion.
Interested participants can register for both the 5K and the Cycle-Thon online or on the day of the event beginning at 9 a.m. The bike ride will begin at 10 a.m., and the 5K will begin at 10:20 a.m.
“It’s just nice to get people out to have a good time in a fairly non-competitive way,” Hoy said. “Everybody’s just out to support the SCOPE program and to get some exercise.”