On May 16, College Possible Philadelphia hosted its inaugural Champions for College Completion, a cocktail reception celebrating students on their journeys to earning a four-year degree and honoring Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of higher education policy & sociology at Temple University and founder of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice in Philadelphia, as well as the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.
Champions for College Completion gathered an array of College Possible supporters, friends, higher education professionals and advocates in the greater Philadelphia region. For some attendees, this was their first time learning about the work College Possible Philadelphia does in the community. The reception featured a program with remarks from College Possible Philadelphia advocates, students and supporters to help familiarize new faces in the room with the College Possible mission and bring awareness to some of the challenges students in the region face.
Kicking off the program, Executive Director Jen Weikert began by giving context to the current landscape of higher education in the region, “Philadelphia is currently facing a college completion crisis. Only about 30 percent of residents have a college degree. That’s not acceptable, and it’s not going to turn Philadelphia into the powerhouse economy and region that we want it to be.” Following Weikert’s remarks, guests heard from two college access advocates in the community, Scott Heppard, District Director for Congressman Brendan Boyle (PA-02), as well as College Possible Board Member, Cassandra Bell of M&T Bank, a Champion Sponsor of the evening.
The most impactful remarks of the evening came when three current college students in our program shared their stories with guests, detailing their journeys to and through college and the support they have received from College Possible Philadelphia. One of the students sharing their story was Camellia Brown, a rising sophomore studying public relations at Temple University. Camellia is the daughter of a single mother and is the first person in her family to go to college.
Reflecting on her first year of college, Camellia stated, “People always ask me, ‘how did you do it, managing school work and working two jobs?’ My answer to that is strong drive and determination … Another reason is because of College Possible. Ms. Jasmine [Camellia’s college coach] is always making sure I stay on top of things, such as financial aid deadlines, scheduling out my assignments before they’re due and just simply being someone to talk to when I’m not feeling like myself.”
The evening concluded with event honoree, Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab, sitting down with Jen Weikert to reflect on her work and discuss her perspective on important topics affecting higher education. When asked about the importance of the organization’s work to help students get to and through college, Dr. Goldrick-Rab stated, “[College Possible’s work] matters because the biggest thing that students want is someone to talk to … the relationship [students in the program] build over the course of several years will allow them, when they’re sophomores in college, to say to that coach … my grades aren’t so good and I’m going to lose my financial aid. [College Possible] is filling in where the system broke. It broke. It’s in cracks. It’s in tatters.” Dr. Goldrick-Rab’s remarks left guests energized, inspired and informed on how to be a true Champion for College Completion
Thank you to all of those in attendance. With sponsorships, contributions and in-kind support, we raised more than $30,000 to support College Possible students in the Philadelphia region. If you didn’t have a chance to make a gift, you can still do so here.
Thank you to our generous sponsors:
Frank DiCicco Associates
By Ian Reitz