Fifty Des Moines Public Schools students will participate in a week-long symposium at Drake University to discuss the unique challenges that students of color face when preparing for college.
The Wanda Everage Academic Success Symposium, sponsored by the Drake University School of Education and Nationwide Insurance, kicks off Sunday, Aug. 6 with a special dinner and concludes after lunch on Friday, Aug. 11.
It’s part of an effort to energize students to motivate their peers to pursue challenging academic tracks, overcome stereotypes, and enroll in higher education.
“Students of color in Des Moines Public Schools and around the country are pursuing advanced placement courses, completing college preparatory courses, and enrolling in higher education at a rate lower than white students,” said Drake University Special Projects Coordinator Petra Lange, a former Roosevelt High School teacher. “Drake is committed to partnering with DMPS to help address those disparities, and to meet the district’s goal of becoming a national model of urban education.”
Each session is led by two Des Moines high school students, in partnership with graduate students at Drake University. The symposium will tackle topics including:
- Embracing strengths and learning from weaknesses
- Time-management and decision-making—skills for improving personal responsibility
- Note-taking and study skills
- Academic and career planning
- Overcoming stereotype threats
Students from 13 Des Moines high schools and middle schools will attend. The symposium is free for students, with breakfast and lunch provided throughout the week.
Wanda Everage, a Drake alumna with deep ties to the University and to Des Moines Public Schools, will deliver a keynote address at 9:15 a.m. Friday, Aug. 11. Everage worked for 24 years at Drake University, retiring in 2012 as Drake’s vice provost for student affairs and academic excellence. Prior to joining Drake she was a middle school teacher, central office administrator, and vice principal at Roosevelt High School.
The symposium was held for the first time last year, and participants showed a high level of enthusiasm, said Wade Leuwerke, associate professor of education.
“The participants gained a deeper understanding of critical skills they need to succeed in school and to prepare for college,” Leuwerke said. “Their positive feedback, combined with continued support from Nationwide Insurance, were strong motivation to host the symposium again this year.”