The Livingstone College Mighty Blue Bears rolled into Anson County recently and left an indelible impression on what college life is like.
Anson High School hosted an assembly for juniors and seniors March 19 that was a part of the college’s motivational tour, dubbed #ExperienceLC, in conjunction with HOLLA! (Helping our Loved Ones Learn and Achieve), the high school and with support by the YCC program.
The Blue Thunder Pep Band, led by band director Anthony Jones, rallied the crowd as student activities director Anthony Brown taught the high-schoolers the college’s chant:
“Who ya wit?” To which the crowd responds, “LC!” (Repeat three times), concluding with “LC too hype!”
And hype it was.
“You all can’t begin to believe how good I feel today,” said Leon Gatewood, HOLLA! founder and CEO and a 1981 graduate of Livingstone. “Today, I’m here with my alma mater. Do you know how good it feels to say y’all come see me and they bring all this?”
Gatewood was referring to the pep band, the award-winning Phi Beta Sigma Step Team, Mr. and Miss Livingstone, a 50-foot culinary arts mobile food unit, and representatives from admissions, financial aid, culinary arts and the Bridge Program.
Brown and Vincia Miller, Livingstone’s director of Alumni Affairs, served as co-hosts.
Dr. State Alexander, Livingstone College executive assistant to the president and vice president of communications and public relations, spoke to students about the importance of education, sharing his own journey to higher education.
Alexander was news and public affairs director for WPEG 97.9 FM radio station in Charlotte when he decided he wanted a different career path. The education he had at that time was not enough, he said.
“I needed a better education. And it wasn’t until I got that (education) that my career started rising,” Alexander said.
“This is a big moment,” he told the seniors. “If you’re going to college, you have an opportunity to change your life for the better. This is a good opportunity for you to change your circumstances … to make your parents proud and to make you proud,” he said.
Sylvester Kyles, director of the Livingstone College Bridge Program, offered hope to those students who had not considered or prepared for college yet. Bridge is a six-week summer program designed to assist students in making a successful transition from high school to college. It is a student’s second chance at getting a college education and specifically targets students who have college potential, but who do not meet admissions requirements regarding GPA, core courses, or ACT and SAT scores.
“It is not too late to decide to attend college,” he said. If you commit to giving us six weeks during the summer, we can change your life,” Kyles said.
Students who complete the Bridge Program are admitted to Livingstone as provisional students in the fall, and receive a $1,500 stipend toward their tuition. The Bridge Program is free to eligible students.
Brandi Gourdine, the reigning Miss Livingstone, came to college through the Bridge Program and shared her story of how Livingstone gave her a chance to succeed. Another student highlighted was Precious Sidbury, who became homeless during her high school years. She came to Livingstone through Bridge and graduated in 3 ½ years with a 3.7 GPA. She is now a teacher with Rowan County Schools.
The Phi Beta Sigma Step Team, a three-time CIAA Step Show award winner, performed a step routine before students were dismissed to attend the various booths and get more acquainted with the programs discussed.
The Livingstone mobile food unit, which features a dining room table, chandelier, fireplace and flat screen TV was available for tours. A culinary arts student served cookies and punch from the unit.
Deborah Davis, YCC program director for Anson High School, said she was pleased with the program and was excited by the number of students who expressed interest in college afterward.
Anson High School Principal Chris Stinson said the school was fortunate to have Livingstone College travel to Wadesboro to motivate students and expose them to nontraditional ways they could attend college.
The intent of this motivational college tour is to engage those students who might have believed college was out of their reach, said Kimberly Harrington, Livingstone College assistant director of public relations, who resides in Anson County. “To be able to kick off this tour in my hometown and for it to be hugely successful was exhilarating. We are grateful to the Anson County School System for hosting our inaugural event.”
These tours are the vision of Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., who wanted to congratulate those seniors throughout the state for reaching this milestone in their lives and to encourage them to seek higher education.
Miller is coordinating the programs with alumni chapters in various counties. Gatewood is a member of the Sandhills Alumni Chapter of Livingstone College.
“I’m grateful for Dr. Jenkins having this vision, where we are not only recruiting future Blue Bears, but also encouraging students to further their education after high school,” Miller said. For more information about Livingstone College, visit www.livingstone.edu. To see photos and posts about the tour, search #ExperienceLC on Facebook and Twitter.