Experience in B4USoar program leads Cameron Johnson to take on mentorship role; Program has grown to include more than 45 high school students in two years
PHILADELPHIA, May 3, 2021 — When Cameron Johnson first heard the course title, “Creativity & Organizational Innovation,” she was skeptical.
“It just did not seem like it would really interest me,” Johnson says. “That changed once I was actually in the class. It opened my eyes to so much, not just with regard to that course but with regard to college itself.”
Johnson enrolled in the college-level course as part of the first 15-student cohort of B4USoar, an outreach program of Temple University’s Fox School of Business that is designed to introduce underrepresented, academically strong Philadelphia public and charter high school students to high-quality education while illustrating how they can thrive in higher learning institutions. Mentoring is built into the program by mixing the classes with high school and college students, having a dedicated peer teacher in each class and through extracurricular activities hosted by Temple student leaders.
The program, which was initially funded by the Fox School and is now funded through the University Strategic Fund, provides qualifying participants with college credits that are fully paid and transferable upon the completion of each course. The courses are general education courses, with a focus on key life skills such as critical thinking, innovation, creativity and the ability to sell oneself.
“The program is meant to serve as an introduction to college coursework to help show the students that they can be successful in this setting,” says Hilda Bacon, manager of the B4USoar program. “We want them to leave B4USoar energized and ready to continue their education, whether that be here at Temple or somewhere else. The key is helping them realize that they have the potential to be successful, and that’s where we think this program can make such a difference.”
Since its launch in the spring of 2019, B4USoar has expanded, as there are currently 46 students from 13 area high schools enrolled in the program’s five courses. B4USoar plans to continue recruiting 15 students from 15 neighboring schools annually, with total enrollment expected to be 80 to 85 students for fall 2021.
For Johnson, who is now a freshman at Temple University pursuing a degree in English, the course did more than just introduce her to a college workload. It also inspired her to give back.
Since starting at Temple in the fall 2020, the North Philadelphia native has been working as a mentor within the B4USoar program.
“Something clicked within me, and I said, ‘I was really given the opportunity to get free credits that people like me, as a Black female, don’t always get the opportunity to have at such a young age.’ So why can’t I help fellow students who don’t get this opportunity? So why not help those students who deserve the same chance?” Johnson says.
Each day that B4USoar courses are held, Johnson is helping students with assignments, counseling them on college expectations, but above all else, she is serving as a trusted sounding board. That’s especially important now, given the Zoom fatigue that many high school students are experiencing.
“It’s just a matter of making sure the students are okay and feel comfortable and secure with what they’re doing,” Johnson says. “I’m so used to it now, that it just feels natural, and I like doing this. I like taking time out of my day to make sure that other students receive what I did. They work hard, and any student who works hard deserves this.”
The five courses that are currently offered through B4USoar include: Creativity & Organizational Innovation; Youth Cultures; Sport & Leisure in American Society; African Americans, Equality and the Law: Weapon or Tool?; and Health Outbreaks, Epidemics, and Pandemics: The Case of Coronavirus. As the program continues to expand, courses offerings will expand, too. This fall, courses will be offered through both the Klein College of Media and Communication and College of Engineering.
ABOUT THE FOX SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
The vision of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is to transform student lives, develop leaders, and impact our local and global communities through excellence and innovation in education and research.
The Fox School’s research institutes and centers as well as 200+ full-time faculty provide access to market-leading technologies and foster a collaborative and creative learning environment that offers more than curriculum—it offers an experience. Coupled with its leading student services, the Fox School ensures that its graduates are fully prepared to enter the job market.
The flexibility and responsiveness of our knowledge-creating research faculty allow the school to address the needs of industry and generate courses and programs in emerging fields. As a leader in business research, the Fox School values interdisciplinary approaches and translational research that influence and impact real-world problems. Our research informs an adaptive curriculum, supports innovation in teaching and prepares students for the ever-changing business environment.