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Good News in Herald-Leader Today

Mochizuki-ElrodProgram inspires teens to go to college
By Merlene Davis
Herald-Leader Columnist
Courtesy of Lexington Herald-Leader

I'm beginning to think I am the last person to hear anything.

Just recently, a newsletter was passed on to me in which the new program director for Educational Talent Search at Bluegrass Community and Technical College was announced.

Not only did I not know about the new program director, I didn't know about the program.

ETS is a federal program that targets middle school and high school students who might need added nurturing to graduate and then go on to higher education. The target population is students from families with limited incomes and who are the first generation to go to college.

"They have potential," said Carol Mochizuki-Elrod, the new program director. "They have the ability to go through college and be successful, but that is not always reflected in their grades."

Once the target population is served, the program is open to others, she said.

Mochizuki-Elrod said ETS advisors are responsible for programs in 28 middle schools and high schools -- nearly every one -- in Fayette, Clark, Bourbon, Scott, Mercer, Jessamine and Boyle counties.

Among high school participants, girls outnumber boys almost 2 to 1. At the middle schools, the breakdown is about even. More than 1,000 students are served.

The intervention starts with sixth-graders and continues through graduation. Advisors meet with students for 45 minutes once a month, identifying the type of learner each student is and teaching study skills, how to read a textbook and other topics.

During the summer, middle school students attend a camp at the University of Kentucky for four days, take part in cultural activities and visit other universities.

"We trying to introduce them to new experiences," Mochizuki-Elrod said.

They also want to help the students excel in school and learn of potential careers while exploring new things.

High school students take out-of-state trips. They're going to New York City in April.

Those excursions are not a given. The students must attend the monthly workshops and have good behavior and grades.

Mochizuki-Elrod said, "70 percent of the students in the program enroll in college."

"What is interesting about early intervention programs like ETS is students begin to not only imagine themselves in college and thriving, but they begin to expect to go to college," she said.

Parents need to know about this program.

BCTC's Educational Talent Search is one of 2,700 programs that operate under a program known as TRIO and serve 866,000 low-income students.

TRIO started out as Upward Bound under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, a part of the War on Poverty. A year later, Talent Search was created, and in 1968, Special Services for Disadvantaged Students was established. The three programs soon became known as TRIO.

Mochizuki-Elrod worked with TRIO at Eastern Kentucky University for four years before coming to BCTC two years ago.

She has worked with young people for 20 years and has lived in Kalamazoo, Mich., where she grew up, as well as Japan, Sweden, Texas and North Carolina.

"I really like working with middle school and high students," she said. "They are so indecisive, and there are so many possibilities out there for them.

"I like taking them to new places and seeing that 'aha!' moment."

ETS students usually are referred by teachers or counselors, or they hear about it from fellow students.

"We also serve adults who would like to enroll in college but need additional support and guidance to help them with the process that can be both intimidating and overwhelming," Mochizuki-Elrod said.

If you are like me and haven't heard of this program but know of a child in one of the seven counties who could benefit from it, call the ETS office at (859) 246-6574 for more information.

We need to be more nosy and definitely more knowledgeable about any program that acts as a safety net for our children and their futures.

Photo: Mochizuki-Elrod relishes students' 'aha' moments. Photo by Charles Bertram