UVA Equity Center Provides Middle School Students a College Experience

July 21, 2022 By Mike Mather, mike.mather@virginia.edu Mike Mather, mike.mather@virginia.edu

About 100 middle-school students from Charlottesville and Albemarle County, including many who would be the first in their families to attend college, were granted a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at the University of Virginia.

The UVA Equity Center’s Starr Hill Pathways Program is a newly launched initiative that encourages children from backgrounds where a college education isn’t guaranteed to explore universities, and prepares them to apply for college. In this inaugural three-week summer program, the participants explored just about all that Virginia colleges have to offer, including medical fields, culinary programs and athletics.

UVA’s Equity Center and community-based partner organizations design the programs, including mentoring and academic support that extend beyond the summer program. This year’s summer program was funded in part by the Jefferson Trust, the DN Batten Foundation, and the Genan Foundation. Starr Hill Pathways will continue to support students and families throughout the academic year with access to mentors, tutors and social-emotional support. Students will be a part of the program until high school graduation. 

“The Starr Hill Pathway Summer Program marks the launch of UVA’s generational commitment to local youth in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, with a focus on first-generation students of color,”  Ben Allen, executive director of the Equity Center, said.

Young people seated at desks in a class room listen to college students talk
Students listened as professors and University students, including first-generation UVA students, talked about what a college experience would be like. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)
Students seated at desks listen attentively
Roughly 100 students attended the Starr Hill Pathways Program at UVA, where they ate in UVA dining halls and explored the University’s classrooms. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)
A man in an orange shirt talks to students seated at desks
Students were given an opportunity to explore how to extract DNA from a strawberry and learned what’s needed for good decision-making. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)
A man gestures to a computer monitor
The Equity Center provided transportation for most of the students and meals for all of them to make sure they could get to Grounds and be fueled up for the experience. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)
A crowd of students fills a ring inside the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers
The students’ exploration of UVA included a visit to the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
The ring of students listens to a speaker standing in the middle
To qualify for the Starr Hill Pathways Program, which included three weeks on Grounds and a tour of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, the students had to be from the Charlottesville area and have full family support to explore college opportunities. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
Seven soccer players on a soccer field talk to a crowd of seated students
The UVA women’s soccer team hosted the students for an afternoon to talk about how athletics fits into a college experience. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
Students practice dribbling soccer balls
The Starr Hill Pathways students got to learn some soccer skills from a UVA team that has four current or former players traveling this summer for international competition. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
A student kicks a soccer ball
While the Starr Hill Pathways Program’s summer program was hosted at UVA, and included visits to athletics facilities, the students also heard about opportunities at Piedmont Virginia Community College. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)

Media Contact

Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications