Two On the Road Collaborative 8th Grade Youth Participate in JMU's Female Institute

Kenyaa and Tatiana, On the Road Collaborative 8th graders, were two of only 30 rising 9th-12th grade students from across the country who recently participated in James Madison University’s Female Institute, a 2-week long summer program that provides young people an opportunity to “live and learn on a college campus as well as enrich their development academically and socially”.

Kenyaa, Deanna Reed and Tatiana pose for a photo at the Female Institute

This spring, Kenyaa and Tatiana completed applications, secured teacher recommendations, submitted transcripts and completed an essay in order to apply for the competitive program. And, both were accepted! Ms. Reed, OTRC Program Director, shared that “Kenyaa and Tatiana were stand-out students in On the Road as 8th graders and were chosen to apply because of their demonstrated ability to lead, their willingness to try new opportunities and their eagerness to get an in-depth college experience.” 

Once accepted, Ms. Reed helped to rally the community around Kenyaa and Tatiana in order to secure the financial support needed to cover the $500/student cost for the program. The African-American Festival, Harrisonburg Women’s Service League and JMU’s Center for Multicultural Student Services all stepped up and provided major support to cover the cost for both young women to attend!

Kenyaa holds a bag with the JMU Female Institute logo
Kenyaa and Tatiana enjoy dinner

Female Institute is a jam packed two weeks of learning and experiences on campus, filled with guest speakers, sister circles, enrichment classes like boxing and yoga, and lots of time to build relationships with peers and the Female Institute mentors.

Here is Kenyaa sharing about the impact of her experience…
During my journey through the Female Institute, I met a bunch of unique young women I have built relationships with and that I can really relate to. We had a lot of different experiences: We had different speakers everyday on different topics from “daring to be the change” to being yourself. Elder Norma Edwards said something that stuck with me, she said ” We Were Born to SHINE” We also had a boxing and yoga class that provided us with something that was new and interesting to us and Sister Circles every night that helped us get to know ourselves and each other a lot more. We also so had amazing inspirational RA’s that drive us places and shared a bond with us and treated us like adults and supported us.

While most of Female Institute occured on JMU’s campus, they also took a trip to D.C. to visit!

the JMU Female Institute poses for a group photo at the MLK Jr. Monument

As OTRC looks to grow in the years to come, our goal is to provide more of these life changing experiences during the summer months as a key way to set our young people on the road to college and career and help them fulfill their promise. If you are interested in helping to fund these types of opportunities in the future, drop us a note. We would love to talk more with you about our plans and how you can get involved!