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Achieve a College Education Day

The Burnett Honors College's annual outreach program encourages educationally disadvantaged students to consider college as an accessible opportunity that will benefit their future.
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ACE Day is the culmination of a multiweek program in which student volunteers from The Burnett Honors College mentor elementary school children and teach them the skills they'll need to be successful in life.

“These programs really open the eyes of young people to the fact that college is an option for anyone who works hard and has a goal,” said Kelly Astro, Director of Research and Civic Engagement for The Burnett Honors College. “We want them to leave ACE Day knowing that as long as you are working hard and have goals, nothing can stand in your way of attaining a college education.”

All of the students came from Orange County Title I elementary schools, which receive federal funding to provide additional instruction and support services.

The children toured campus buildings and residence halls and enjoyed hands-on experiences ranging from a theater improvisation class to engineering projects using toothpicks and gumdrops, presentations by UCF music students and an athletic training obstacle course.

Michael Hampton, a chemistry professor and director of the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, performed an experiment with hydrogen to illustrate his presentation about energy, chemistry and the environment. “It’s amazing — once I explode the balloon, they listen to everything I say," said Hampton.

"These are kids who had never thought they could go to college, just like many people who think they can never understand chemistry," Hampton said. "You just have to know how to think about it."

From his collection of bird, reptile and mammal bones, biology instructor Frank Logiudice showed the students how to distinguish an herbivore from a carnivore based on its teeth. 

“One of the fundamental issues is that so many young people don’t even know that college is an option for them,” said Astro. “By bringing the students to UCF, we say, ‘This is what going to college is,’ and then we reinforce the ways in which you get there.”