The students I interact with as director of the Balfour Scholars Program remind me of myself. Like me, they come from similar under-resourced and underrepresented backgrounds. Just like the Balfour scholars, I participated in a pre-college program that inspired me to achieve academic and professional excellence, thus I am living proof that these types of programs do work.
The objective of this program is to increase higher education access and success for underrepresented minority students, wherever they choose to attend college. A secondary goal is to strengthen the relationship between IU Bloomington and the college-going population of underrepresented minority students at Indiana high schools. The program begins with the Pre-College Academy the summer after their junior year of high school. It continues throughout their senior year, with additional support during the final phases of academic preparation for and application to college — and for those who attend IU Bloomington, the program extends throughout their entire college education.
During the program, student scholars attend sessions from a variety of campus units that focus on becoming a better scholar, managing finances, completing a degree program on time, exploring and planning for a career, and becoming involved in student activities and organizations, internships, and service learning. The academy experiences were designed to give students the analytical skills and knowledge needed to make informed decisions about college selection by encouraging students to consider the importance of college choice and fit.
It continues to be a pleasure to watch the scholars transform mentally, socially, and emotionally during the pre-college academy.
Some scholars have shared that the Balfour Pre-College Academy was the first time they had an opportunity to leave their hometown, let alone visit a college campus.
Other scholars expressed that originally, IU Bloomington was not an option, but after living a week as an IU “college student,” they learned what sets this university apart and developed an integrated campus support system away from home.
I am honored to serve as director of this program because I am able to mentor, advise, and counsel students as they transition to post-secondary education.
Below, several of this summer’s participants share their experiences.
Aileen Castro is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is a senior at South Side High School. She is considering studying recreational therapy in college.
Mansi Pandya is from Indianapolis and is a senior at Ben Davis High School.
Bryce Gentry is from Carson, California, and is a senior at Junipero Serra High School.
Raquel Ruvalcaba is from South Bend, Indiana, and is a senior at Marian High School. She is considering studying music in college.
About the Balfour Scholars Program
The Balfour Scholars Program is a project of the Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration within the School of Education at Indiana University Bloomington in collaboration with the IU Office of Enrollment Management, Residential Programs and Services, Career Development Center, and the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs. It is funded by a four-year, $800,000 grant from the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, and provides student-centered outreach and wrap-around support programming for underrepresented minority students.
The Balfour Scholars Program began in 2013 and is currently in its third year. This summer’s pre-college academy had 127 scholars, contributing to about 350 total participants over the three years. The majority of participants are from Indiana; more specifically Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Gary/Hammond/Merrillville. Approximately 37 percent of Balfour scholars from the first two cohorts have matriculated to IU Bloomington.