High school students get first-hand college experience from SIU fraternity

Phi Rho Eta holds mentor program

Twenty-five boys of Hyde Park Career Academy took a break from high school to get involved in college life at SIUC during the weekend.

Phi Rho Eta held a mentor program that allowed the students to experience first-hand what it is to be a college

Marquist Evans, left, and Shavontae Kimble, high school students from Chicago, bowl Friday at the Student Center. The fraternity Phi Rho Eta sponosored students through the weekend as part of a mentor program that introduced them to college life. –Sarah Gardner | Daily Egyptian

student. They arrived early Thursday afternoon and spent the rest of the weekend getting acquainted with members of the fraternity as well as campus life at SIUC.

Phi Rho Eta is a fraternity based on the three principles of pride, respect and excellence through community development, academics and social interactions, according to its website. It was founded in 1994 by Lamont Taylor and Marvin Randolph, who sought to create a brotherhood that would give boys hope for a successful future who had been born without one, the website states.

Perry Boutte, Phi Rho Eta member and a senior from Chicago studying criminal justice, recreated the mentoring program. He said the last time it was done was in 2007, before he enrolled at SIUC.

“It’s just an opportunity I feel they should have, and now they can,” he said. “I wanted to get these boys away from the city (Chicago) for the weekend. The crime rates are going up, and I wanted to show them that there are other things to do with their weekends.”

Boutte said he tried to get the program started numerous times during his time at the university. He said he thinks it is important to the fraternity’s cause and to his profession that they do all they can to help the younger students get the start they need.

He talked with a friend who runs a mentoring program in Chicago, he said, and through persistance, his friend finally gave in and helped plan the program.

Boutte said he talked with Tammy Morris, head of Undergraduate Admissions, who helped secure funding. The trip was free for the boys, and the Undergraduate Admissions office paid for housing, food and transportation, he said.

The boys were directly involved with college life and activities during their stay. They were paired off Friday morning with fraternity members and went along with them to their classes.

The students made donations to Gaia House as well as volunteered with an Adopt-a-Spot Saturday morning,  a program run by Beautify Southern Illinois, an organization whose mission is to promote and increase awareness of environmental issues in Southern Illinois, according to the organization’s website.

One of the high school students, Ryan Gougis, a senior at Carver Military Academy in Chicago, said the experience was an eye opener.

Gougis said he was accepted to SIUC and plans to attend this fall. This was his first time seeing the campus in person, he said, and he couldn’t be more excited.

“I think it’s important transitioning from high school to college, because it’s such a different experience,” Gougis said.

He said seeing how responsible the fraternity members were about getting to class on time and doing their work showed him how important it is to stay on top of things.

“There’s no one to tell you what to do or when to wake up. You have to be responsible and do for yourself,” he said. “You’re basically an adult.”

Boutte said his mission was to give back to his community — he wanted to show the boys there are different things in the world than what they are used to in Chicago and to give them the opportunity to visit a college campus.

He told the boys the program was not a recruitment for his fraternity, he said. The main point of college is to get a degree, he said, and they should focus on that first.

“If you don’t have any grades, you can’t talk to me about the fraternity,” he said. “Do your work, and then we’ll talk.”

Marcus Lashley, a senior at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, said he was glad Boutte pointed this out to him. He said the parties are all anyone ever talks about when it comes to college, and this experience gave him a new attitude about college.

“He’s showing me how life really is when you move on from high school,” he said. “I want to base my college experience on what they’ve taught me today.”

Corey Stevens, a junior at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, said he procrastinates a lot, and his biggest fear was that his procrastination would cause him to fall behind.

“The guys here have shown me that getting this under control is definitely important when I get to college,” he said. “They’ve shown me that college is hard if you make it hard, but if you do your work early and get it done, college can be easier.”


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