A group of Riverhead High School students are set to embark Saturday on a college tour some believe can shape their futures.
Riverhead High School Guidance Counselor Natacha Volcy is passionate about involving students in the "Historically Black College and University Bus Tour." As a student, Volcy went on the tour herself.
“Even though I ended up attending SUNY–Old Westbury, the tour was a life changing experience for me,” she said.
This year, four Riverhead High School students, Christopher Collins, Shakiyla Sykes, Destiny McElroy, and Denise Brunskill will take the tour with a group of approximately 75 other students from around the country.
During the week-long event, students will tour more than 15 colleges that have been historically attended by African Americans, in states including Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia.
The tour, celebrating its 31st anniversary this year, is sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Eta Theta Lambda Education Foundation, Inc.
"We probably couldn't tour all these colleges on our own," Sykes said. "It may open up new opportunities for us."
Application fees are waived for schools on the tour, and scholarships are available. Students on the tour are afforded the opportunity to meet admission representatives in person.
Kerrysha "Puddin'" Pittman and Alexandra Brown, former Riverhead High School students who went on the tour last year, are both currently in their first year of college at Virginia State University, a college they visited on the tour. Both students were accepted to several universities they toured last year.
Other highlights of the tour include a trip to Washington, D.C., a visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and a visit to the Martin Luther King Museum in Atlanta.
Pittman said the tour opened up her eyes to scholarship opportunities. "At Morgan State, one of the speakers there asked, ‘How many of you have applied for scholarships?’ Nobody raised their hands. ‘But you have time to Tweet and update your Facebook pages,’" he said. “A lot of kids on the trip got scholarships--full rides,” she added. "One boy got a scholarship on the spot–just for being brave enough to come up and sing when they asked for someone to share a talent.”
The tour will leave at 4 a.m. on Saturday.
“You’ll never regret going on this trip,” said Volcy. “Even if you don’t go to one of the colleges on the tour, you’ll never forget this experience. It can literally be a life-changing experience for you.”