Going to college is a dream that can become reality. That’s the message the University of Central Florida’s inaugural Achieve a College Education (ACE) day will deliver to more than 500 fifth-graders on Monday, March 21.

Local fifth-graders will tour campus, learn about academic programs and meet with industry leaders from Walt Disney Imagineering and Universal Studios. The day’s activities will emphasize that college is within reach and connects to real-life, and will introduce students to in-demand careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

ACE was designed and developed by UCF’s Burnett Honors College in partnership with WORKFORCE Central Florida and Orange County Public Schools’ Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program.

“The ACE program encourages students to begin to identify career interests and reinforces the fact that education is essential to achieving personal and professional goals,” said Kelly Astro, director of Research and Civic Engagement at the Burnett Honors College.

Lancaster, McCoy, Palmetto, Pineloch and Shingle Creek elementary schools will each send students to the event, which will run from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More than 135 UCF students, many from the Honors College and LEAD Scholars, will guide the fifth-graders as they explore UCF’s landmarks, laboratories and residence halls.

Students will also get to interact with UCF faculty through hands-on activities, such as learning about the relationship between music composition and math by practicing hand clapping rhythms; building structures out of gumdrops as they explore engineering; and handling animal bones and meteorites as they study biology and astronomy, respectively.

UCF President John C. Hitt will encourage participants to pursue a higher education because of the power it has to transform lives at a ceremony at the end of the day.

The ACE program is a culmination of this semester’s AVID outreach, which had UCF honors students making weekly visits to local elementary schools with underserved students to share strategies for academic success.

“By serving others, these talented students develop the ability to lead, communicate effectively with diverse populations and understand complex issues within their community,” Astro added.

To learn more about The Burnett Honors College, go to https://honors.ucf.edu.