Yale Scholar Talks College at Columbus Family Academy

Friday, December 9, 2011
Christopher Hoffman
203-497-7015 (office)
203-721-3184 (cell)
Columbus Family Academy students culminated a week focused on the importance of attending college with a talk by a scholar from Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Dr. Matthew Mason, who has two masters degrees and a doctorate, told students how college transformed his life, led him to live in and learn about different parts of the United States and launched his career as an archivist and historian. Mason, who specializes in the study of historical photographs, showed students a book he recently published on photographs of Winnebago Indians from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Mason advised the fifth-to-eighth graders to start thinking about and preparing for college now. He urged students to take challenging courses, such as algebra, and “read, read, read.”
“Talk about college,” he said. “Talk about it with your family. The more you prepare yourself now, the better you’ll do in college.

As part of “Pathway to Promise,” Columbus Family Academy students and staff spent this week discussing college and decorating rooms with paraphernalia from different institutions of higher learning. “Pathway to Promise” seeks to build a culture of college in the New Haven Public Schools and encourage students to apply for New Haven Promise scholarships.
New Haven Promise, a joint program of Yale University and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, offers eligible city students generous scholarships to state of Connecticut colleges and universities and more modest grants for in-state private institutions., To receive scholarships, students must graduate with at least 3.0 grade point averages, have good attendance and discipline records and perform community service.
For Friday’s event, teachers, administrator and staff, including Principal Dr. Abie Benitez, wore graduation robes or T-shirts emblazoned with the college they attended. Dr. Benitez told students of her decision at 12 to go to earn a doctorate in spite of being from a poor family.
“But I did it,” she told students. “You know why? Because I wanted to be knowledgeable. What you learn no one can take away from you. It’s looking at what you as a human being can accomplish with your brain.”
Mason urged students to seek Promise scholarships.
“(Promise) will pay for your tuition at a state school,” he said. “That’s a huge thing. Take advantage of it.”
Promise complements New Haven’s School Change reforms that seek to increase test scores and close the achievement, cut the dropout rate in half and prepare all students for college.