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REACH Day to connect scholars with university students and staff

2021-02-10-REACH Georgia Day graphic
On March 2, Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Georgia will host a virtual day for students and their mentors, parents, teachers, and peers to learn about the college admission process, financial aid applications, and budget management. The program will be livestreamed from 8:30 to 11:15 a.m. via YouTube.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in spring 2020, Sandy Ott would meet with her Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Georgia scholar on a regular basis for lunch and a chat.

"The last day we met was the day that it was announced that school was going to go virtual," said Ott, director of the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Blue Ridge Campus. "We mistakenly thought we would be back in a few weeks."

Ott, who has been the student's REACH Georgia mentor for three years, has not been able to meet the Fannin County High School sophomore in person as often since. They have diligently communicated via text, email, and online chats, "but it's not the same," Ott said.

Recognizing other REACH scholars and mentors may have similar obstacles, Ott contacted Jennifer Herring, who organized and implemented a REACH summit in 2018, to find a solution. After their conversation followed by a collaborative effort, the virtual REACH Day was born.

On March 2, REACH scholars along with their mentors, parents, teachers, and peers can learn about the college admission process, financial aid applications and budget management. The program will be livestreamed from 8:30 to 11:15 a.m. via YouTube. To participate, visit go.ung.edu/reachday. Or to submit questions in advance, email Jennifer.Herring@ung.edu.

Sponsored by UNG, the three-hour event divided into 30-minute segments will feature UNG staff from admissions, financial aid, registration, and the Student Money Management Center.

"These are the critical pieces of information involved in planning to attend college and paying for it," said Herring, special assistant to the vice president of UNG's Gainesville Campus. "We felt it was important to get this information to REACH Georgia students across the state."

REACH Georgia is a needs-based mentoring and scholarship program providing promising students the academic, social and financial support to graduate from high school and achieve post-secondary success. REACH scholars are students selected in rising eighth-graders who agreed to stay out of trouble, remain drug free and maintain a 2.5 GPA. They will be paired with an academic coach and mentor. Upon graduation, qualifying REACH scholars are awarded financial scholarships.

Herring, who helped coordinate the collaborative virtual REACH Day effort among UNG, REACH Georgia and the Georgia Student Finance Commission, explained the virtual program will include interactive panels. They will feature current students and faculty members from all five UNG campuses will round out the virtual event.

"We will have first-generation students and faculty members who will share their experiences with the REACH scholars," Herring said. "The students can tell the REACH scholars about things they wished they had known before entering college. We hope the faculty panel will demystify student perceptions of college professors and reduce any concerns about approaching them or asking for help."

Ott said the volunteer spirit of UNG students, faculty and staff to implement this special program is not unusual.

"REACH Day is a great example of what happens every day at UNG," she said. "It shows the unlimited possibilities that occur when people and resources come together."

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