Mentoring and College Readiness

Over the last 2 years, I have driven across Texas offering diverse students free tours of media and communications companies is 4 cities – Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. I launched a web site called Media Xperiments, based on the social networking platform called Ning. Students could sign up at no charge for tours of highly regarded ad agencies such as GSD&M Idea City and Sanders Wingo, media production houses like AMS Pictures, video game companies, radio stations, recording studios, etc. My original intent was to have the students build on-line portfolios that were reviewed by professionals in their field and then find them paid internships with local media companies. Of course, it was 2008 and the bottom had truly fallen out of the economy making it very difficult to place my first class of students.

So, I had to make other plans. We would meet each week at different locations across the city. Offices, community centers anywhere we could. The Media Proteges, as I decided to name them, would meet entrepreneurs, work on advocacy projects for local organizations and continue to interact with a wide array of media professionals. They were gaining what I term as Cultural Capital – the sum of experiences needed put them on the bleeding edge of media, technology and entrepreneurship. There were several false starts and stumbles but after a while, we found our stride.

One of the proteges got to shoot and edit video for a local entertainment company (see video above) and then we got do some work for Texas Parks & Wildlife. Having completed year 1 with 4 proteges, I’m happy to say that now we have 12 with a broad range of skills and interests. I’m now confident that our approach of engaging students can be effective at accelerating literacy and critical thinking skills. Now, it’s time for them to serve others as they continue hone their skills and work out an educational plan for achieving their goals. As the pool grows larger, we are seeing a multiplier effect.

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