Ichabod Success Institute prepares students for rigor of college

Jessica Knieff

A five week program that prepared seventeen first generation Ichabods for a lifetime of success concluded Aug. 4. The Ichabod Success Institute works to invest in students who may not have chosen to come to college otherwise.

The Ichabod Success Institute is a joint effort of the Center for Student Success, Mabee Library, Academic Affairs, the department of English, Student Life, and Enrollment Management at Washburn University and USD 501 high schools. The Ichabod Success Institute was developed largely by James Barraclough, director of Undergraduate Initiatives.

Jennifer Lieurance, senior communications major, is a first generation student. She was a peer educator for the program’s inaugural year in 2016. This year she returned as a peer mentor and the program also served as her Bonner site for the LinC Bonner Learning program.

“They are amazing students and they typically are the type of people that would not consider college,” Lieurance said of the participants.

According to Lieurance, the students come live on campus for five weeks during the summer preceding their freshman year. The students get to practice an effective college lifestyle in a controlled environment.

The students all get six credit hours for free ,either through financial aid or through the department. As a cohort, these Ichabods complete their Washburn Experience course and EN 103 over the five weeks.

Grace Cole is an incoming freshman who plans to major in business and entrepreneurship. She is part of the 2017 Ichabod Success Institute cohort and spoke about the rigor of the program.

“Its very difficult, [but] not in a bad way,” Cole said. “It’s intense, but it’s a lot of fun because not only do you have that support system with the group, but you have people who are there all the time to answer your questions and help you. It is definitely a constructive environment.”

The students attend classes four days a week and do group activities on Fridays. This year for the first Friday, the group attended The Villages Adventure Challenge Program in Topeka to develop teamwork skills. The second Friday, the group gave their time to assist with a Habitat for Humanity project.

“We were able to see the impact we could have by being civically active,” Cole said.

The third Friday was spent seeing museums in Kansas City followed by a Royals game, at no cost to the students. The fourth Friday included a job shadowing experience to help the students see the possibilities for their futures.

Students are selected for this program through a lengthy process. High School faculty in the USD 501 district can nominate students that they feel could benefit from the program. These students then apply and if selected prepare all year for the program and for college.

Before the summer portion ever begins, the students are all assisted with applying for financial aid and have a dinner with President Farley.

Gema Rodriguez, an incoming freshman interested in graphic design and art, had some peers who entered the program last year and was interested in participating before she ever received her nomination.

“I had a support system at Topeka High and I knew I would really be struggling if I didn’t have it,” Rodriguez said. “When I heard about how everybody supports each other and how Washburn actually looks after the students, that really made me want to do this program.”

She said she has enjoyed the time on Washburn’s campus. Due to the cost and the proximity of her own home, she will not be living in the dorms, but says that she is glad she got to stay in Lincoln Hall for the five weeks over the summer.

Rodriguez spoke about the stigma that exists for Topeka students around attending Washburn.

“I know a lot of Topeka high school students don’t want to go to Washburn,” Rodriguez said. “Once you actually get here and see how much people care about you and the sense of community that we get through this program, it makes you want to stay here.”

The free of charge program was planned and raised funds for for nearly six years. The costs are covered by both the Center for Student Success and gifts from private donors.

Armando Molina, an incoming freshman majoring in biochemistry, says he did not have much knowledge about college and this program has helped to prepare him.

“I probably wouldn’t be going to college if I wasn’t in this program,” Molina said.

To learn more about the Ichabod Success Institute, contact Barraclough at 785-670-1378.