For years, Florida Gulf Coast University has hosted Eagle EXPO Open House during the third Saturdays of October and February. This gives prospective students a chance to come and visit the FGCU campus
Visitors will be able to talk with students, faculty members, advisers and staff who are part of the everyday environment in and around FGCU. These people will offer the attendees advice on how to apply and what to expect at FGCU.
This October, there will be an addition to the expo. For the first time, FGCU’s Youth Development & Empowerment ambassadors are working to bring middle and high school students from the Fort Myers area to campus, in an effort to get more kids interested in getting a college education.
Michel Dakendo and Madeline Heath are working for the Office of Service Learning as Service-Learning ambassadors.
“This is giving us a chance to promote the new ambassadors program at FGCU,” Dakendo said.
According to the FGCU website, these people have a special opportunity for personal and professional growth and development. To be an ambassador, you must commit to the program for the entire academic year. You must also have a 2.5 or greater cumulative grade point average and participate in a minimum of four hours of tabling and recruitment every month.
There are five impact areas for Service-Learning Ambassadors, one of which is the youth development and empowerment area. Michel and Heath are working with the youth development and empowerment coordinators. As ambassadors, they are liaisons between FGCU students and community agencies. These people create events through a partnership with these agencies to promote service-learning and provide volunteer opportunities to FGCU students.
“Our impact area will be Youth Development and Empowerment,” Heath said.
One other group that is critical to the expo is the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers. This is a professional housing management governmental corporation that owns, manages, develops and administers federal state and local housing and social service programs for low, very low and moderate income families. This also successfully implements national housing policies and incorporates family self-sufficiency as a main component for transitioning families from welfare to into work.
Dakendo and Heath partnered with the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers beginning this year. It is the first year FGCU and HACFM has created a partnership. HACFM works to provide housing for low income families and is committed to serving the community.
“We are closely working with Mr. Twaski Jackson,” Michel said.
Jackson is the Director of Client Services at HACFM. The ambassadors also have collaborated on creating the Eagles Inspire program and are utilizing the Eagle Expo event to bring middle and high school students from HACFM to the campus of FGCU.
Here, volunteers from FGCU will partner with a student from HACFM as a mentor and develop a mentee relationship to have a one-on-one experience with a college student. Everyone will meet as a group in the morning for ice-breakers, to create name tags, and to partner FGCU volunteers with students from HACM.
Participants will have a campus tour together and then mentors and mentees will split up to visit individual areas of interest. They will all regroup in the afternoon for lunch and a question-and-answer session, and will end with a mock graduation ceremony, in which HACFM students will dress in a cap and gown and be presented with a diploma. After everything is complete, the visitors will have photos taken.
The ambassadors hope to give these students the vision that they too can go to college. Both Michel and Heath are first-generation college students, so they have a special connection to this mission. They hope that by providing a one-on-one mentor experience, it will give this group of young people someone to look up to and inspire them.
Organizers are expecting about 60 people to participate in this part of the expo, including students, parents and volunteers.