What Have You Done With Your Summer?

Posted: 27 June by Brett Hoover in Uncategorized


Back around Outdoor Heps time, this website had a little button on the menu that said something like, “Do you want to join an education movement?”

I don’t remember the exact wording. But we were trying to enlist college students and graduates to join us for a college residential experience for more than 100 at-risk high school students in a program called X-Mester hosted by Vincennes University in southwest Indiana.

The goal was pretty simple. Surround the students with supportive mentors, structure their time wisely, share techniques and strategies for college success and apply high expectations. We figured that not only would the high school students have a lot to learn, but those who oversaw them would as well.

So we brought our recruitment to HepsTrack and, lo and behold, four of the 13 Fellows we wound up hiring were indeed Ivy League athletes — Princeton sprint football captain Adrian Colarusso, Ivy women’s baskeball player of the year Brittney Smith of Dartmouth, former All-Ivy tennis player Jessie Rhee of Yale and Princeton star wide receiver Trey Peacock.

Any of them would tell you that it wasn’t easy. In fact, I would bet that for most of them it was the toughest job they ever had. But they worked tirelessly for the better part of three weeks to change attitudes, demonstrate leadership and improve results.

It worked. Professors were amazed at the level of engagement of the students and grades were dramatically improved (most had begun the course online and completed it face-to-face). The students themselves saw the difference as well. About 70 percent of them reported that they had developed better study strategies and were better prepared for both college life and college success.

“It was so incredible to see the transformation in these kids,” said Jessie. “In the beginning there were a few speed bumps, but that just made the whole experience that much more worthwhile. I was challenged in terms of what I believed in and what I expected, and now I walk away enlightened… and even nostalgic.”

Thank you and congratulations to Adrian, Brittney, Jessie and Trey. You made a world of difference for young men and women like Moses, Sommer, Iman and LaRome. Enough if they yet don’t know it.


Eight of the 13 X-Mester Fellows (pictured above) competed in college athletics last year. Along the front row are Bobby Irwin (Baldwin Wallace tennis), LaTasha Dawson (Vincennes basketball), Jessie Rhee (Yale tennis) and Adrian Colarusso (Princeton sprint football). In the back row are Garnett Phelps (Eastern Kentucky football), Trey Peacock (Princeton football), Brittney Smith (Dartmouth basketball) and Kenya Kirkland (Georgetown basketball).

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