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Educators inspire teens to think ‘higher education’

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
Fort Valley State University President Dr. Larry Rivers spoke to students at Mundy’s Mill High School this week about the role high education can play in their futures.

Photo by Johnny Jackson Fort Valley State University President Dr. Larry Rivers spoke to students at Mundy’s Mill High School this week about the role high education can play in their futures.

JONESBORO — Energy emanated from the crowd as Johnny Nems and Dr. Larry Rivers gave their presentation in the Mundy’s Mill High School gymnasium.

Nems is a recruiter at Fort Valley State University.

“This life is just like a basketball game,” he said. “If you don’t practice and prepare for it, you will get beat. You will determine what happens to you. So, take what you do seriously.”

Nems introduced Rivers as president of Fort Valley State and the first college president to visit the school.

Rivers was featured in Wednesday’s assembly to remind students of the importance of higher education and career training.

He works during Fort Valley State’s spring break to recruit from schools across the region. He said he has done it throughout his seven-year tenure, visiting two schools per day for an entire week.

“I see a lot of potential,” said Rivers, looking out upon the crowd of students. “I see a lot of energy, dreams and hope.”

Briana Stoke is one of those hopeful students. The junior and second-year cadet in the Mundy’s Mill High Air Force JROTC served as the assembly’s mistress of ceremonies.

“I think we were fortunate to have the president come speak to us,” said Stokes, 16.

She is already mapping out her future. She plans to apply this fall to local colleges where she hopes to major in pre-law.

“Higher education is the best way to secure your future,” she said.

Stokes said her teachers and family have been major components in her success.

“I feel like it’s important to have people around that can support you,” she said. “I have my support systems here at the school and in my home life.”

School counselor Dr. Victoria Martin said the assembly was a collaborative effort arranged to inspire students like Stokes to think seriously about their post-secondary options and how they should start working toward those options.

Martin said the school hosts college fairs twice each year to remind students about higher education and career training.

“We try to create as many opportunities for our students as we can,” she said.

Fort Valley State is known for it agriculture, business, criminal justice and mass communications programs, said Rivers.

“We would like as many students to apply who would like to come,” said Rivers, noting the university draws 40 percent of its student body from Clayton and Fulton counties.

University officials waived application fees for students who applied at the school Wednesday.

Rivers said they typically collect between 150 and 400 applications during assemblies, depending on school size.

“My daddy once told me, ‘if you get a good education no one can take that away from you,’” he said. “A good education teaches you how to think critically and take care of yourself in a highly technological society.”