Builder Bound Camp at SC Emphasizes Hope

Southwestern College recently completed its annual Builder Bound Camp.  The camp introduces a taste of college life to middle school students from Stucky and Jardine Middle Schools in Wichita.

Builder Bound Camp 2022SC also hosted students from Wichita South and Southeast High School as part of Wichita State’s Kansas Kids @ GEAR UP program, as well as high school students working with Upward Bound Wichita Prep.  The program, which is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to help students in foster care prepare for post-secondary education.

Dawn Pleas, vice president for retention and student success at Southwestern College, has organized and planned Builder Bound Camp for 15 years.

“The goal of the camp each year is hope,” Pleas says.  “I just want to give kids the message that they can attend college, not just here, but anywhere. Giving hope to young people is so important.”

Assisting Pleas each year are Southwestern College planning committee members (Ed Loeb, Lonnie Boyd, Alissa Sheppard, and Anjaih Clemons-Williams), along with 14 current college students who mentor the campers for three days and two nights.  Rev. Dr. Garnita Pleas travels to Southwestern College from St. Louis each year to provide empowerment classes to the females.  Head men’s basketball coach Matt O’Brien and alum Wendell Riley led the empowerment classes for the males.

“My initial question to the campers is ‘what’s in your toolbox?’ followed by guidance for developing the tools they will need to navigate life,” says Garnita Pleas. “What we need to continue growing is self-love and self-hope.”

Classes taught during the three-day camps are science and engineering (Michael Tessmer), mathematical enrichment (Dilini Fonseka), and yoga and mental clarity (Roshan Adikari).

Stacy Malicoat, an instructional coach and an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) site coordinator, says that this camp is beneficial to the students.

“Jardine is in a very low-income area,” Malicoat says.  “Being able to be on a campus and to see mentors that look like them; it shows them that they can achieve anything.  It also changes their perspective. They can go to college, they can go to higher learning.  We talk about in AVID that we are a family, and this camp helps with our mission.”

Dawn Pleas reports that nearly 125 middle and high school students participated in the camps on the Southwestern College campus.

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