Dream-Catchers Offers Help to At-Risk Students

Posted: November 21, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

Students in Fairfax County’s burgeoning alternative education programs now can dream with confidence of a college education, thanks to a new partnership between George Mason and Fairfax County Public Schools. The Dream-Catchers program, an initiative of the Provost’s Office, targets high school students who would normally lack access to higher education, and guides them through the rigors of a degree at Mason.

Few universities have developed programs to help this kind of “alternative” student–the young adult who has the potential to succeed but has encountered major barriers that put college beyond his or her aspirations. The purpose of Dream-Catchers is to facilitate the transition from high school to college for these students and to ensure success through graduation by pairing them with mentors during the six years of the program, in addition to providing positive role models and financial aid.

“These students are the cream of the crop of the alternative education programs, yet they don’t have the self-confidence or support to apply to a university,” says Jane Razeghi, a special education professor and co-coordinator of the program. “Our intent is that their mentors will be able to provide the support and guidance they need to achieve a college education and, in so doing, an improved quality of life.”

“For a university like George Mason, with a reputation for innovation and a commitment to service in the region, this program is a natural,” says Provost Peter Stearns. “This is more than the usual kind of experiment, but the potential payoff is really considerable. We hope to build models from the program that can help other universities explore connections with this growing segment of alternative education.”

George Mason faculty and staff members are encouraged to volunteer to serve as mentors. For more information, contact Razeghi at x32055 or jrazeghi@wpgate.gmu.edu.

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