2010 Archives

Making the most of 'students of promise'


The following is from the April 7, 2010, column by Cheryl Hall of The Dallas Morning News. Professor Geoffrey Orsak, dean of SMU's Lyle School of Engineering, is involved in this project.

April 8, 2010

By Cheryl Hall

Torrence Robinson looks at today's minority youth and sees a generation filled with potential that might go largely unfulfilled.

He's not talking about kids at risk of succumbing to drugs and gangs.

He's talking about "students of promise" who just don't see the promise of going to college as applicable to them.

"These are kids in the academic middle, not fully engaged in school activities or taking advantage of resources that could help them," says the 44-year-old director of education and workforce for Texas Instruments Inc.

"With the right motivation, inspiration and a road map, they can be on the road to academic success."

Robinson calls his initiative "The Compelling Why." . . .

In late January, he held a proof-of-concept event for 50 black male C-plus students attending Franklin D. Roosevelt and A. Maceo Smith high schools in Dallas, "straddling the fence between academic success and academic complacency."

It was held at Southern Methodist University. For many, it was their first time on a college campus. That's another key component. Robinson wants to show them where the vision takes hold.

Geoffrey Orsak, dean of SMU's Lyle School of Engineering, helped host the session and says it was remarkable.

"I was just so moved by the truly honest give-and-take between the participating community leaders and these high school students," says Orsak, who intends to continue the school's support. "This is the kind of program that really does make a difference."

Robinson is planning four to six seminars for the Dallas and Richardson school districts in the fall. Each will target up to 200 black or Latino 13- to 18-year-olds, males and females, with speakers who match them.

Read the full story.

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