By Emily Klingman
Rider will soon inspire ambitious younger minds.
The sisters of Lambda Theta Alpha (LTA), a Latin sorority at Rider, are hosting a program on Oct. 11 for young teenagers aimed at motivating them to further their education.
“Aspire High” was established by a sister in the Alpha chapter of Kean University, Lillian Perez, to empower children to go to school and learn life skills, and to give them role models. Perez first started “Aspire High” at the YMCA of Perth Amboy, N.J., as a summer program this past year. Children would go to weekly events where LTA engaged the girls and fraternities helped out with the boys.
From that initial start, Perez has expanded the program into “Aspire High: College Edition.” This now includes trips to colleges in the local area.
“She thought it would be a good idea for kids to see a college and what it was like, since they’ve never been at a college campus and for them to actually see this is real and they can go there,” said Courtney Crawford, junior elementary education major and vice president and academic chair of LTA.
“It’s a great way to empower kids,” said Valeria Posso, sophomore human resource systems major, Rider University Greek Counsel delegate and treasurer of LTA. “I think it’s great for them to see and be multicultural with it and see outside of where they’re normally at.”
In order to get into the program, the students had to go through an application process. The applications were sent to different middle schools and high schools in Central and North Jersey towns, including Perth Amboy, New Brunswick and Edison. According to Posso, the applicants had to be in their early teenage years, and had to show some motivation or drive in their lives.
Crawford added that Perez also looked for “students who are actually benefiting from the program or who need a role model in their life.”
The sisters of LTA at Rider have reached out to other sororities, fraternities and organizations on campus for help. Throughout the day, a mix of students from the summer program and new participants are going to be involved in activities focusing on “life skills” and what it is like to be a leader.
The plan for the day is to show the young people around Rider, via a fun activity, where they will have to find clues hidden on campus.
“Clues like, ‘Where would you get coffee at the SRC?’ so they go to Starbucks and find other clues here and there,” said Posso. “I know there’s going to be some faculty members that are going to come and talk about res life, Greek life, and then show them around the dorms and academic buildings.”
During the life skill-themed activities, the sisters do not want to force the young people to participate, but rather encourage them to choose on their own.
“We don’t only want to be like, ‘So, you have to be a leader.’ No, we want to make them so hands-on, that they’re already taking leadership roles,” said Posso.
Crawford thinks the children will react positively to the program.
“We know what they’re going through, we know what’s going on in their heads, and the struggles they face. We’re there to tell them, ‘It’s OK, don’t worry. We’ve been there and we can help you get through this because look at where we are now,’” she said. “They’ll go home and they’ll reflect on their day here at Rider and they’ll reflect on the people they met and who made an impact on them.”
The sisters of LTA love the fact that they can make a difference in the lives of so many young people.
“After seeing them over the summertime and they’re coming here to see where we’re at, I think they’re definitely going to be inspired by it,” said Posso. “They’ll see the different things they can find when they are applying to colleges. That’s what we’re going to teach them here: life skills, skills you’re going to take throughout life, in jobs, and when you meet people.”