Student Senate hosts Dickinson students

Ryan Jarvi

Around 30 students from Dickinson Academy, a public school in Grand Rapids, came to Grand Valley State University on Friday to tour campus, have lunch, meet Louie the Laker and hear from a state legislator about following their dreams.

“There are few things that are more powerful than our hopes and our dreams,” State Rep. Winnie Brinks told the students. “They’re what sustain us in hard times, times when it seems that everything is stacked against you and times when we’re tempted to give up. It’s our hopes and our dreams that make us get back on that horse (and) start working hard again even when it’s hard to do.”

Brinks said the event was a way of making college seem more attainable for the students.

“I think mostly it makes college not just sort of an abstract concept, but something that kids can see and understand, ‘Oh that’s what that is,’” she said. “To actually get them over on a campus and walk around I think helps them experience it in a way that gives them a picture, and that maybe they can imagine themselves in college someday. It adds some dimension to that discussion.”

The event was organized by GVSU’s Student Senate and sponsored by Grand Valley Housing, Admissions and the Division of Inclusion and Equity.

“It’s kind of like a college-preparatory thing so they can experience what it’s like to be on a college campus,” said Shannon Blood, a student senator and organizer of the event.

At the event, Dickinson students from the fifth, seventh and eighth grades made a time capsule, which included a form they filled out noting possible future careers, life goals and steps to take to achieve those goals.

“We’re going to return it to them in three years with pictures of the event,” Blood said.

Students first arrived at the Rec Center where they tossed the pigskin with football players, ran around with track team members, learned a routine from the GVSU dance team and hung out with Louie the Laker.

Though fifth and seventh graders may be a little young, Student Senate President Ricardo Benavidez said the purpose of the event was to get students thinking about the idea of going to college.

“It’s a really good experience for them and for us,” Benavidez said. “Especially the eighth-grade students who are going into high school this next coming year, to try and get them thinking about college early, because often times we see students not thinking about college until their junior and senior year, and that can be too late.”

But the event wasn’t just to help the Dickinson students.

“It kind of opens our eyes to a different kind of reality that’s out there,” Benavidez said about GVSU students participating at the event. “It’s different from a lot of the places that we come from. So, just to kind of see the experiences these students have and the environments that they come from really helps to open our eyes to the world.”

During her speech, Brinks stressed the importance of making goals and being determined to achieve them.

“Our dreams don’t come true by chance, and our goals aren’t achieved by accident,” she said. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to reach the goals that you have set for yourself. You need a goal, which is like a destination where you’d like to end up, but you also need the way to get there. Wherever it is you want your life to take you, the road to that destination is going to start with school.”