Over 280 third graders celebrate their first day of college with Promise Indiana Randolph County

Indiana University East welcomed third-grade students from Randolph County for the Promise Indiana Randolph County event, “Walk into My Future,” on September 30.

The all-day field trip brought 283 third graders to the Richmond campus from six Randolph County elementary schools. “Walk into My Future” is an event partnership with the Community Foundation of Randolph County, Randolph County school corporations and IU East.

Promise Indiana Randolph County is a program geared toward supporting every student to pursue education after high school, and by making it easy to start a CollegeChoice 529 savings account for their child’s future.

Promise Indiana Randolph County
brought 283 third-grade students to IU East for the “Walk into My Future” event on September 30 for a day of interactive learning and hands-on discovery. Each student received an “I Did It” certificate and had their photo taken with Rufus the Red Wolf, IU East’s mascot.

IU East hosted “Walk into My Future,” a day of interactive learning and hands-on discovery. The third graders had a peek at what their future college experience could be like through their experiences.

IU East Interim Chancellor Michelle Malott said IU East welcomes the Randolph County third graders students to campus to celebrate their first day of college, and to inspire them to reach for their future dreams.

“For a first college experience, we want every one of these third graders to know that whatever they dream is possible and within their reach,” Malott said. “Promise Indiana Randolph County is one way that our faculty, students and staff can connect with young learners and show them all that college has to offer, right here at their doorstep, and what possibilities their future could hold. We hope this event is a day of fun, of learning, and helps provide families with the information they need now to start preparing for their children’s future.”

Karen Dillow is the coordinator for Promise Indiana Randolph County. She presented the “Walk into My Future” awards during the event.

“IU East does a fantastic job of planning, organizing and executing the Walk Into My Future event,” Dillow said. “The third-grade students love seeing what each department has for them and of course they love meeting Rufus. We appreciate our partnership with IU East in creating a magnificent day on campus for the children.”

Throughout the day, third- grade students explored college through a series of learning stations with lessons led by IU East faculty, students and staff.

Frances Yates, Campus Library director, is the coordinator for the learning sessions. She has taken on this role since the program was first established in 2019 at IU East. Yates noted the importance of welcoming youth to a college environment and providing unique learning opportunities.

“Our IU East faculty offer interactive learning experiences in a variety of subjects that introduce young students to ideas for future study and career exploration. Throughout their visit, students enjoy positive interactions with faculty, students, and staff and become comfortable in a college campus environment,” Yates said.

Justina Licata, assistant professor of U.S. History, is a new faculty member at IU East this fall. She volunteered to lead a session on “Girls Played Ball Too,” which examined the history of the All-American Girls Baseball League. Licata said she thoroughly enjoyed working with the third graders.

“The students were particularly outraged when they discovered the players were required to play baseball in skirts. After learning a bit about the league and the women athletes, the students wrote thoughtful letters to the players. They asked them what it was like to play professional baseball and if it hurt to slide into second base in a skirt. It was a thrill watching them make connections to these courageous women and the past,” Licata said.

Licata started her second session of the day by asking the third graders what they had learned during their visit.

“One student responded, ‘I have learned that this place is awesome!’ I was thrilled to hear that IU East was a place that sparked this excitement for learning,” Licata said. “Throughout my history lesson about women’s baseball players in the 1940s and 1950s, the third graders made critical observations, contributed thoughtful reflections, and asked important questions. The students’ curiosity and engaging conversation made my time with them an absolute joy.”

Sanga Song, assistant professor of marketing , led a session called “Create your ad,” in which the third graders learned about advertising, where to find it and what makes effective persuasive advertising. During lesson, students learned about ad techniques and created an advertisement for HELP the Animals Inc.

“The session was very successful,” Song said. “Students were so enthusiastic when talking about advertisements they saw and enjoyed playing with pet photos and drawings while making their own advertisements. I believe this session helped students develop their advertising literacy (as there is an increasing need to educate children about advertising) and understand what marketers do in their day-to-day job.”

Song agreed with Licata that the event was a successful event to provide a variety of hands-on experiences for the third graders.

“The second they walked into my class, I felt that they opened their hearts and minds to new adventures and experiences,” Song said. “Their eyes were filled with excitement and curiosity. I believe this program is an excellent opportunity for us to provide youth with early inspiration and growth opportunities and help them dream of the future they want. Some of the students said to me ‘see you again’ when they left my classroom at the end of the session. I really hope we see them again on campus.”

The six elementary schools in Randolph County to participate in the “Walk into My Future” day at IU East were:

  • Deerfield Elementary, Ridgeville
  • Monroe Central Elementary, Parker City
  • North Side Elementary, Union City
  • Randolph Southern Elementary, Lynn
  • Union Elementary, Modoc
  • and Willard Elementary, Winchester.

The day of exploration took the third graders to classrooms across campus as they explored college through a series of learning stations, talked with university students, faculty and staff.

There were 21 different topics in 54 learning sessions led by 56 faculty, staff and students from all five academic schools. Examples of include virtual reality demonstrations, art sculpture hunt, fun with physics, hands-on science, learning about animals, nutrition, health with germ fighters, Spanish Bingo, language lessons, birds of the world, detective riddles, fishing exercise, music, playing the Blues, history, fact or opinion session, and movement games.

Additionally, each student received an “I Did It” certificate and had their photo taken with Rufus the Red Wolf, IU East’s mascot.

Promise Randolph County Community Foundation deposits the first $25 to kick-start savings for students in third grade at Deerfield, Willard, Randolph Southern, Monroe Central, North Side, and Union. Third graders can also receive encouragement from champions and when they contribute $25 to their account, can earn $75 community matches.

Additionally, every third-grade student received a $1,000 scholarship, provided by IU East, to go toward the costs of college. The scholarship will be available to Randolph County third-grade students who attend IU East as part of the incoming class of 2033.

The Promise program is supported by Promise Indiana through the Indiana Youth Institute, the Indiana Education Savings Authority, and Lilly Endowment, Inc., as a combined effort to Increase college and career readiness around the state.

All the information about Promise Indiana Randolph County is available through the Community Foundation Randolph County website.