Helping students get ACCESS

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, March 28, 2013

Even for students whose grades are good and who have had a long history of parental involvement and support in their education, the transition from high school to college can be a hard one. But for many students, even getting to the point where they can consider how to make that transition is a goal that seems out of reach.

With a grade point average of 1.5 early in his time at Lakeland High School, Qadree Willis was not a student most folks would have expected to ever have to worry about transitioning to the life of a college student. Just a couple of years ago, he admitted while speaking at a luncheon earlier this week, he was far more concerned about girls and partying than he was about his grades or his future. But the ACCESS College Foundation and Willis’ ACCESS adviser helped turn Willis’ life around.

Through tears, Willis described the change to a group of ACCESS supporters and advisers at lunch at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on Tuesday. He and two other students represented the more than 7,000 students who have been helped since the organization came to Suffolk nine years ago.

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More than 2,000 students used about $21 million in financial aid, and 244 of them received ACCESS scholarships totaling nearly $230,000. Perhaps even more important than either of those figures, however, is the number of students who have benefitted from the intervention of the caring ACCESS mentors who work in the city’s three public schools.

ACCESS advisers work with their young charges to help them get their grades turned around, to help them get signed up for and receive financial assistance for standardized college placement tests, to help them apply for and choose colleges and to help them understand how to finance college education. It’s all about grooming and shepherding students who might otherwise completely miss out on the possibility of advanced education.

“The ACCESS Foundation has been my rock,” King’s Fork High School senior Christine Fulgham said. “Without it, I don’t know where me and my friends would be in our college journeys.”

You can join some of Suffolk’s leading philanthropists in their quest to support the work of the ACCESS College Foundation. For more information on the organization, visit