This past month I was involved in an educational mentorship program called Exit Lancaster. This program is located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and it is based on five pillars; arts, career aspirations, community service, education and wellness. Together these pillars create a "winning life plan". The "plan" helps to provide the necessary tools for students to become successful in life.
The program focuses on students in middle school, but as they continue their education the program follows them through high school. As a highschool senior in the program I was given the opportunity to be a mentor to the middle school students and upcoming freshman. I got to spend the month of July with an amazing group of kids and we got to end the summer semester with a trip to New York.
Stemming from the southeast of Lancaster County where opportunity and exposure to the world are limited, Exit Lancaster tries to change that and offer something new. The arts pillar focuses on exposing students to a variety of things that are different from what they are used to.
On the second day of our trip we got the opportunity to go to citifield stadium and see a Mets game. The game was against San Diego Padres. It truly was an amazing experience to see a Major League Baseball game live and not on tv, plus we had great seats. Not to mention the energy from the fans in the stadium. Although the Mets lost the game, it was a great day. I do want to add that the stadium must have been near an airport because about 50 plans passed throughout the game.
On our last full day in New York City we traveled to 222 West 51st Street and saw the Broadway production of Wicked. The acting, singing, costumes, sets and special effects were breath taking to say the least. For kids from the southeast of Lancaster, Pennsylvania this was an amazing experience. I myself am no stranger to musical theater but seeing a Broadway production is a theater lovers dream. For some students on the trip this was their first theater production they have watchted, and for others this was their first Broadway production. None of this would have been possible without Exit Lancaster.
Along with graduating and gaining a high school diploma, furthering your education is highly encouraged in the Exit Lancaster program. The education pillar focuses on guiding the student intellectually. During the summer semester the middle school students read a book and write an analytical paper on the meaning and value the book holds. The high school students got the opportunity to take a college level literacy course, refining their writing skills to the degree of a college paper. During our time in New York we visited two colleges Saint Johns University and Hofstra.
The first school we visited was Saint Johns University which is located in Queens, New York. It is a Catholic private school. My first observation of the school was that it was enclosed, the campus was its own town. It had various buildings and eateries along with dorms and town houses. This school is a divison one with a basketball team that plays in Madison Square Garden. There was a home feel about this school and it has an amazing study abroad program. Campus life is great with spring and fall carnivals and concerts.
The second school we visited was Hofstra which is located in Long Island, New York. This school is 200+ acres large and is divided by north and south sides. The north side is where you can find the dorms and the south side is where you would find your classrooms. Both sides of campus are easily accessible by walking bridges, there a few throughout the campus. This school is also division one and gives tickets to any game for you and a friend. Campus life is very vibrant with a multitude of different social activities happening all the time.
Keeping in good health is always a good idea. The wellness pillar of Exit Lancaster is very intense. During the summer semester we workout at the local YMCA twice a week with our fitness instructor and burned 300 calories. This summer we also participated in the 10 day sugar challenge. Although working out and eating well may get tough at times its worth it in the end.
While traveling around one of our stops was Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty. We went to Liberty State Park and walked around for 30-40 minutes enjoying the weather and taking in the view.
As we traveled around the city, there was only so much time spent on the bus. Going to Broadway or dinner at Dallas BBQ (which I highly recommend if you are ever in New York) we traveled on foot and navigated through the crowded streets of New York City.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to travel to New York. It was very eye-opening, seeing that I want to be a fashion journalist and moving to New York seems very likey. This trip helped me figure out if New York is somewhere I want to live and go to school. After everything I've experienced I am ready to apply to colleges there and continue forward in following my dreams.
If you would like to learn more about Exit Lancaster follow them...