Dante has always had college aspirations, but never thought attending a school like Wabash College was possible.
“Economically, this is going to be unreachable,” the rising high school junior remembers thinking before traveling more than 1,000 miles from home and stepping foot on campus.
After participating in Pathway to Your Future, Dante now feels more confident and understands that money doesn’t have to be a factor that will hold him back in the future.
“I feel better now because I’ve learned about financial aid and all the possibilities with grants, scholarships and work,” said Dante, who grew up in Mexico and recently moved to Texas. “I really feel like college will be much more accessible for me and my family.
“This is all very new to me, and this is the first time I’ve been this far away from home,” Dante said, “but I feel like I belong at a place like Wabash.”
The sense of belonging gained through lessons in and out of the classroom and in the connections made with other high school students from around the country is what the Pathway to Your Future program is all about.
The free week-long visit program from June 26-July 1 was created specifically for rising high school sophomores and juniors who are underrepresented minority students, eligible for federal Pell Grants, and/or first-generation college students.
Pathway to Your Future, funded by the “Restoring Hope, Restoring Trust” grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., provides students with a taste of collegiate life. It aims to ensure that all students, regardless of background, graduate with the necessary skills to lead thoughtful conversations and to help build more inclusive communities.
Twenty-one students from Texas, Arizona, and Indiana, with an average GPA of 3.9, are participating in the program, which gathered more than 190 applicants.
Participants spent the week engaging with faculty and staff in student-centered, hands-on learning experiences that featured an immersion trip to Indianapolis; networking sessions with successful alumni; enjoying the College’s first-class athletics and recreational facilities; and learning from civic and business leaders about the transferable skills needed to succeed in college.
Additionally, each Pathway to Your Future participant has the potential to receive an annual scholarship up to $25,000 upon completion of the program in addition to merit scholarships upon admission to Wabash College.
“We understand and appreciate the obstacles these students face,” said Steven Jones ’87, Director of the MXIBS and Dean for Professional Development. “We are saying, ‘Hey, there's a way that we can overcome this, and Wabash College is for you.’
“What I shared with the parents at drop off earlier in the week was to not be consumed with sticker shock. When you see the price, understand that there are ways that your son can be a student here,” Jones said. “He can not only be a student, but he can thrive here, graduate, and accomplish things he never imagined.”
Joaquin, another rising high school junior from Texas, said he enrolled in the program with the goal to “get a head start” on learning about college life. He was surprised to gain much more than that from the week-long experience with other students he now calls his friends.
“I love the network — everybody I’ve met from the other high school students to the alumni, professors, and current students leading the program have been really cool,” Joaquin said. “The community is so united and welcoming. Wabash doesn’t feel like school, it feels more like family.”
Dante and Joaquin have two more years to decide where they want to go to college. After participating in the Pathway to Your Future program, both say they hope to enroll and officially become Little Giants.