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Evan Carter participated in Boys Hope Girls Hope International’s Collegiate Prep program at Saint Louis University on June 27. Carter is a graduate of Chaminade College Preparatory School and will attend Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo.
Evan Carter participated in Boys Hope Girls Hope International’s Collegiate Prep program at Saint Louis University on June 27. Carter is a graduate of Chaminade College Preparatory School and will attend Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Collegiate Prep helps develop skills for first-time college students

Boys Hope Girls Hopehosted 104 high schoolgrads on SLU campus

This fall, Evan Carter will be heading to Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo., where he plans to study business marketing and creative writing. The recent graduate of Chaminade College Preparatory School said he’s excited about the newfound freedom he will experience as a college freshman.

“There’s a lot of freedom, but also it’s taking responsibility into your own hands,” Carter said. “It’s exciting, but at the same time daunting.”

To prepare for the experiences that await him at college, Carter was one of 104 recent high school graduates from 11 states who participated in Collegiate Prep in late June on the campus of Saint Louis University. Sponsored by Boys Hope Girls Hope International, the six-day program gave students — mostly first-generation college attendees — with the needed tools to succeed in their upcoming transition to college, such as adjusting to dorm life, handling the stress of being away from home, applying for financial aid and loans and time management.

Carter learned about Boys Hope Girls Hope while he was a middle school student at Most Holy Trinity School in St. Louis. His former principal, Jessica Kilmade, recommended the organization to his family as a support resource. Carter’s parents attended college, he said, but Collegiate Prep gave him some new ideas as he transitions into adulthood.

“It’s been interesting to learn about credit scores and how you need to have credit in order to get things like a house or loans,” Carter said. “But I also learned general health awareness and how trauma can affect someone at a major level.”

The week at SLU was a culmination of Boys Hope Girls Hope’s “The College Road” curriculum, which was developed more than 15 years ago to increase college graduation rates among young people, whom are referred to as “scholars.” The long-term program includes age-appropriate activities for scholars on their journey to college. Collegiate Prep also dove into other aspects such as self-care, identifying on-campus student services, building relationships with faculty and working on study skills.

Antoinette Neal, a recent graduate of McCluer South-Berkeley High School, will be attending Fisk University in Nashville in the fall. Her mom attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis but stopped when she became pregnant with Neal’s older sister.

Her mom told her, “don’t stay here, you’ll get too comfortable,” Neal recalled. “She really pushed me to find a school out of St. Louis, so I wouldn’t be as dependent on others. She also encouraged me to go for scholarships. To this day she’s still paying loans, and she didn’t finish college.”

In a session on self-care, Collegiate Prep students talked about Adverse Childhood Experiences, and ACE scores. Roshanda Neal, a licensed professional counselor and certified trauma professional, led part of the conversation on how people experience trauma differently, and to know when to seek help — and where to find help on campus.

“We have a long way to go in creating a sense of awareness,” she said.

The week culminated with students writing their legacy statements, a reflection of their personal stories and the future impact they hope to have on their communities.

“It’s telling a little about ourselves, but also the mark we want to leave when we leave this earth,” Antoinette Neal said. “Mine was letting minority women know it doesn’t matter where you come from; it matters where you’re able to go in your life.”

SLU scholarships

The Boys Hope Girls Hope Scholarship at SLU was established for BHGH scholars who will be attending Saint Louis University. The scholarship is supported by John Vatterott, former board chairman and current board member with the organization, as well as other donors.

In 2018, the organization dedicated the Vatterott Award in honor of its inaugural recipient to celebrate the legacy and impact of extraordinary visionaries whose generosity, determination and philanthropic support have bolstered the vital work of Boys Hope Girls Hope on behalf of scholars, collegians and children in need. Vatterott is a member of Christ the King Parish in University City.

This fall, Boys Hope Girls Hope has five incoming freshmen students who will be starting school at Saint Louis University, joining three currently enrolled to form a cohort of eight.

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