The goal of the College Success Program (CSP) is to support undergraduate students in the Village of Promise target neighborhood who are attending college. Advice, assistance, and support are provided to ensure scholars’ successful completion of college and entry to a career. The program began fall 2013 with a small pilot group of eight Butler High School graduates. Terrell Banks, a second year college student attending J.F. Drake Technical College, is a current participant of CSP. Each scholar is assigned a well-qualified professional mentor and they also receive academic counseling and advising assistance to stay on track with achieving their educational goals and to ultimately graduate and begin their chosen career. Elton Akins, Terrell’s mentor, reports that Terrell continues to excel in and out of the classroom. After successfully completing his first full year, Terrell is continuing to work toward his Associates degree in Computer Information Systems by taking a full course load over the summer. Akins said that Terrell is expanding his knowledge in software programming and networking by taking C++, Cyber Terrorism, Linux and Cisco 4 classes. In addition to taking a full load of classes, Terrell is starting a part-time internship with Linc Research, Inc. As an intern with Linc Research, Inc., he will be supporting the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program. After completing his degree at Drake State, Terrell plans to pursue his bachelor’s degree at either Alabama A&M University (AAMU) or University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH).
Terrell is active outside of the classroom as well. During his sophomore year Terrell was crowned King of Drake State. His responsibilities included coordinating and hosting social events, speaking with prospective college students about Drake State and making sure that the Drake State Pageant was a huge success for the upcoming King of Drake State. Terrell and a fellow classmate also worked with the Grissom High School students that attended and won the US Cyber Patriot VII National Finals. Terrell said that having a mentor helps him to stay on the college tract. “Mr. Akins helps me to keep my focus and continually reminds me to keep a short term and a long term plan. My short term plan is my Bachelor’s Degree, my long term plan is to be successfully employed,” reports Terrell.
A report from Mr. Akins has put a smile on many faces in the Village of Promise community. Elton said, “Terrell’s continued progress is a great example of the CSP working to assist high school and college students succeed in college and prepare them for a successful career.” Elton said the topic he Terrell talk about most is probably “preparation”. Their conversations seem to always come back to making sure that he prepares for the future and opportunities not yet seen. Elton encourages Terrell to take advantage of his educational opportunities and seeking out opportunities to get experience in his chosen field so that he can become a subject matter expert. Elton said he has used a number of quotes with Terrell in their conversations and one that currently comes to mind is, “It takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to get spectacular results.”