LEXINGTON, Va. – A program held at the Virginia Military Institute is helping high school male minority students to go beyond their expectations: the Collegiate Orientation Workshop.
During the program, students exercise mentally and physically to overcome adversity, even off the ground, about 60 feet in the air.
Some students describe it as complex since they are being pushed beyond their physical limits.
“All I knew was that it was going to be hard, new, and something that I probably wouldn’t like,” Jaden Alexander, a student from Newport News said.
Jaden Alexander and Gideon Barry are two of about thirty high school students participating in one of the exercises during the program.
“I would also say my math skills have gotten better and my public speaking,” Gideon Barry, another student from Fayetteville, North Carolina said.
Students in the C.O.W. program get four weeks of intense instruction in communications, grammar, financial literacy, and math.
They also work out physically, pushing beyond fatigue to show what they are truly capable of doing and to ensure there are limited distractions, the students do not have electronics.
“These are kids with promise with potential, but who may be underachieving it, and they need to be taught how to go beyond what they think their limits are,” Eugene Williams, the organizer, said.
Williams has been hosting the program for 36 years, and his goal is to make sure kids stay on the right track after they leave the program, which is free.
“We provide a full scholarship for all the kids accepted. The cost to run the program is about $270,000 per year,” Williams said.
Students in the C.O.W. program said their experience at VMI has been great.
“Everybody is here for the same reason, to get better,” Alexander said.