Yerania Rodriguez-Ibarra admittedly was “not the best student in high school.” As such, she was convinced she was not “college material.”
Fast forward a couple of years and Yerania is a scholar in the truest sense. The 2017 All-Arizona Academic Team honoree and Phi Theta Kappa academic honor society member is a semester away from an associate of arts degree at Yavapai College’s Verde campus.
Elizabeth, “Libby,” Craig, meanwhile, was a Camp Verde High School senior who was determined to go to college and study zoology. That determination didn’t stop her from worrying about being on her own in strange surroundings. Today Craig is a YC student ambassador, a local zoo volunteer and self-described “human directory” at the YC Answer Center on the Prescott campus.
The young woman who didn’t think she was college material and the young woman who feared the unknown attribute their transformations to the YC LEAD program, an early-college program designed to ease the transition to college for recent high-school graduates.
Yavapai College is currently recruiting high school seniors for LEAD programs at both the Verde and Prescott campuses this summer. The eight-week program (June 5-July 27) is free for all participants and features educational and recreational activities and field trips, college-preparation workshops and college coursework for which participants may earn up to six credits. Participants at the Prescott campus also receive free housing and meals.
“I thought it was amazing. If it weren’t for that program, I don’t think I would have been involved as much as I am,” Rodriguez-Ibarra said of the LEAD program. “I built connections. I got to know people.” Along with her involvement in Phi Theta Kappa, Yerania is a Spanish and writing tutor and participates in the Student Support Services TRIO Program at the YC Verde campus in Clarkdale.
The personal connections that the LEAD program fostered with other participants, teachers and staff motivated Rodriguez-Ibarra to give college her all. “They saw potential that I didn’t see in myself,” she said.
Craig also touted the personal connections she made in the LEAD program – something she badly needed after abruptly separating from high school friends who left home after graduation. “If I had gone straight here (Yavapai College) without the LEAD program, I wouldn’t know who to talk to, who to get help from. I would have been lost,” she said, adding, “The transition helped a lot. I got to get my bearings and feel like I was grounded here before I started my first full semester.”
High school seniors who would like the opportunity to experience YC student life before their first full semester of classes are encouraged to apply for the LEAD program. Space in the program is limited. The application deadline is March 10. Apply online via the YC website: www.yc.edu/LEAD.