Larry Thi was a stand-out student at Community College of Philadelphia before transferring to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a scholarship worth up to $30,000 a year.
Now a UNC graduate and a high school teaching fellow with a nonprofit group called 12+, the scholar and alumnus last month came back to the place where his higher education career started, but this time he was looking for new tools to help inner city youth realize academic success.
Thi was among more than a dozen educators and advocates who attended a town-hall style information session for community leaders on November 19 in the Main Campus Pavilion. The workshop was part of an initiative that seeks to give Philadelphia’s influential teachers, mentors and community leaders, who we call Pathfinders, timely access to the latest information regarding changes to financial aid, admissions deadlines and scholarships.
In 2011, Thi was selected to receive the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, a national award given to outstanding community college students. The award helped fund his undergraduate degree in history at UNC Chapel Hill, which Thi received in May 2013.
Since August, Thi has taught high school students in Kensington through 12+, which seeks to serve students from the most impoverished sections of the city. His mission now is to empower students and provide a road map to college.
“My current duties as a 12+ Fellow include providing college access to students at Kensington Health Sciences Academy, cultivating a college-going culture and promoting academic achievement,” Thi said. “I facilitate workshops to equip students with necessary skills to succeed, advise students one-on-one, and operate multiple after school programs including Chess Club, ESL Club and Poetry Club.”
The Pathfinders workshop provided useful information, he said. “I attended a teacher-parent conference and the parent asked me about learning disability support services provided by universities and colleges for her son. Having attended the Pathfinders workshop, I informed the parent about the Center on Disability and certain accommodations and support that may be provided for her child,” Thi said.
At the November workshop, Samuel Hirsch, Ed.D., vice president for Student Affairs, discussed the broad range of support services available to new students at the College. The Pathfinders asked a lot of questions about Single Stop, a national initiative that is new to our College. It provides free and comprehensive social and financial services to students as part of an effort to foster economic security and support student retention.
Students around the nation have received an average of $2,000 in public benefits, services and tax credits through Single Stop USA. Community College of Philadelphia is the 16th College in the nation to launch Single Stop.
Jennifer Cardoso, of Philadelphia Academies, Inc., a nonprofit youth development organization that works with several district schools, said she came to learn more about the Single Stop initiative. “I knew about it but was interested in knowing more,” Cardoso said.
New market research has shown that the College’s enrollment is being driven in part by community influencers who convince prospective students to enroll. The Pathfinders initiative is designed to support them and create opportunities for them to gather and share new ideas.
For more information about Pathfinders, contact Diane Kae, manager, Student Outreach and Recruitment at email@example.com.