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New Student Success Center Encourages Uptown Teens to Plan for College

 The Chancellor Carmen Farina visited the George Washington Educational Campus to announce the launch of four additional student support centers (SSC)
The Chancellor Carmen Farina visited the George Washington Educational Campus to announce the launch of four additional student support centers (SSC)
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DNAinfo/Carolina Pichardo

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Students of a local high school campus have another educational tool under their belt to better prepare for the future, as a new student success center (SSC) has opened in a bid to support them in their path to college.

The George Washington Education Campus — which houses the College Academy, High School for Media and Communications, High School for Law and Public Service and the High School for Health Careers and Sciences — will now provide students with a space specifically that creates a “strong college-going culture,” Department of Education officials said in a statement.

The student success center, a version of which also launched Wednesday at Mott Haven Educational Campus, Herbert H. Lehman High School Campus and the Longwood Campus in The Bronx, will provide students and their families with college workshops, one-on-one meetings and youth leaders — who are “successful upperclassmen and college students that receive ongoing training and support younger students — and access to a community-based organization, their staff and resources.

The youth leaders, the DOE said in a statement, also receive ongoing training and support younger students with college and career planning and readiness.

The DOE already had eight such centers in place at 19 schools across The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, serving approximately 10,000 students, officials said. With the addition of these four new campuses — and their 15 schools — it brings the total to 12 centers throughout 34 schools to serve an additional 7,000 students, officials said.

“Having a place like this, where you can go and ask questions and seek information, it doesn’t get better than that,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said during a tour of the new facility last week, adding that creating these centers is about making sure everyone is on the same page, with mentoring programs and workshops not just for students, but parents and families as well.

Samantha Alvarez, 16, a youth leader for the program at the George Washington Educational Campus, said the program is there to help everyone.

“It’s not easy to apply to college, and that’s why I became a youth leader, because I want to make it easier for my peers to succeed,” Alvarez said. “

Alvarez said the center will feature two youth leaders per school, and although each one works with students from their schools during lunch, they also have an “open door policy” that allows them to work with students from each other's schools as well.

Alvarez said she has struggled to get students to remain at the program, although she’s up for the challenge and learns from the high school and college process each day.

“The process is long, but it’s worth it… and there are people in the community that are willing to help you reach your goal. And our goal in the high school is to take everyone to success. Success is the key,” Alvarez said.

The DOE said it's currently identifying a fifth campus to work with in late spring and over the summer to launch in the fall, as well as meeting with campuses interested in the model as part of its “College Access for All” initiative plans and goals.