New program guides marginalized students to college

Meant to aid minority and low-income students, the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program serves as an in-school guide for the complex college application process and ensures readiness for the future.    

ACES’ move to Blake last year is a small part of a much broader, ongoing plan sponsored by Montgomery College to provide academic assistance to underrepresented students in MCPS high schools. Each participating high school is assigned an academic coach to lead the program and work with students on a case-by-case basis. “What better way to assure that our world will be a better place than to invest in the youth who will be our future?” says Cedric Jennings, Blake’s appointed academic coach.  

Having joined forces with multiple departments across the school, including English, counseling, and the college and career center for several of its projects, ACES strives to be as thorough and accommodating with each activity as possible. So far, SAT/ACT tutoring, financial aid workshops, and college tours have all been opportunities made available for students to take advantage of.

A favorite activity for many ACES students is guided tours to regional colleges. So far, the program has taken the group on visits to institutions such as Montgomery College, Towson, and Morgan State University during the school day. By doing so, ACES provides easier access to students who lack the means to travel to their colleges of interest. Senior Loza Tsegaye, who plans to attend Towson in the fall, is the first in her family to be accepted into college. “I wouldn’t have gone all the way out to see my future school without ACES,” she says.

Having such ready access to the program’s resources at school also brings a certain peace of mind to students who are preparing for their lives after graduation. With the pressure of finding a major and studying for high-stakes college readiness exams heavy on the minds of upperclassmen, ACES’ guidance becomes a deeply appreciated asset for its participants. “It really puts me at ease with thinking about college, because that can be really stressful especially for junior year,” says junior Ta’Tyani Young.

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