Deadline extended for college readiness program in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The deadline to apply for the CAP and GOWN Project's STEM Summer Institute has been extended to 11:59 p.m. May 10. That's almost two weeks from the original deadline of April 29.

Organizers came to WHNT News 19, asking us to help them get the word out. They said they don't want any students to miss out on the opportunity to participate, and they worry some students may not realize they are eligible.

The STEM Summer Institute is a 2-week summer college readiness program to help rising juniors and seniors prepare for the ACT and other college preparation. It takes place this year from June 3-7 and July 8-12 on the University of Alabama in Huntsville campus.

It is open to rising juniors and seniors from each of Huntsville's high schools. Click here to apply and learn more information about the program.

Leaders told WHNT News 19 that this program gives students a head start on college preparation.

Kari Shimada, Lee High Spanish teacher and director of STEM Summer Institute, said, "We do ACT tutoring, we are getting them ready for college applications, working on personal statements, all of these things. And we are exposing them to local STEM companies around the city. University tours as well. So it's bringing together a bunch of students who are super dedicated to their future from around the district."

She added, "One of the main goals of STEM is getting our students to and through colleges."

She said it's helpful for students who don't know where to start with the college application process, or those who are first-generation college attendees.

Diaris Donaldson, a Mae Jemison High School senior, said attending the STEM Summer Institute helped him decide on a career path.

"STEM Summer Institute helped me realize I want to pursue STEM fields such as engineering. I am going to Norwich in Vermont to become an aerospace engineer," he said Monday.

He added that while he has goals, he won't limit himself to what he wants to accomplish after college.

"I would encourage other students to sign up [for STEM Summer Institute] because you never know. If you are not satisfied with the ACT score you've got, you can push harder and become even better and what you do," he stated.

Shimada said when she hears her students have gotten into colleges and universities, it makes her feel good.

"You're sharing in that joy with them," she said. "That, as a teacher, is the greatest feeling you could possibly have."

She wants STEM Summer Institute to help others achieve their dreams. Shimada said the program is free. The application takes just minutes. And they have seen students grow, on average, 3 points on the ACT through the two weeks they're in the program. She said that type of growth is typically seen thoughout a student's whole year.

But organizers worry that students don't know this is available to them. The program began in only a small number of Huntsville's high schools, but now it is open to all. More than 40 students will be accepted, she explained. But there's a problem: "We are lacking an equitable amount of applications from the various high schools."

They extended the deadline so everyone has a chance to apply.

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