Mission College, a program Sister Jerome Corcoran founded four years ago to help college students from working poor families complete their degrees, is about to have two success stories to its credit.
Youngstown State University seniors and Mission College clients Tekia Huggins, a communications major, and Ashley Snipes, majoring in biology, will be among more than 1,550 students receiving diplomas at Spring Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 7, on the YSU campus.
Sister Jerome’s Mission, a ministry sponsored by The Ursuline Center to help economically challenged families with emergency needs, added the Mission College program to assist urban college students. “Mission College helps students from working poor families overcome the challenges unique to first-generation college students,” said Maraline Kubik, program director. “Most of them have little or no financial support from their families and no one able to offer advice.”
Huggins, who was reared by her grandmother on Youngstown’s South Side, has earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications. She said the Mission College program helped her with gas money and practical advice. “Sister Jerome has been talking to me all along,” she said. “Even now, when I’m looking for a job, she tells me that I shouldn’t expect to start out at the top in my dream job – that I might have to start at the bottom.”
A graduate of Youngstown Early College, Huggins had earned 30 college credits while still in high school, so she was able to start YSU as a sophomore. She completed an internship at YSU’s Rookery Radio and worked as a part-time student office assistant in the Communications Department. Huggins aspires to a career in broadcast journalism.
Snipes is a Struthers High School graduate who has earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology, with minors in forensic science and chemistry. As a student, she has been working as a chemistry laboratory assistant at YSU and is also employed at a local retirement home. She aims for a career in forensic science and medical technology.
Kubic, Mission College director, said the program is also working with seven other college students, providing financial assistance for college-related living expenses, such as gasoline and lunch on campus. “But most important, we pair them with a knowledgeable mentor who helps them navigate the higher education system,” she said. “The mentors help them to stay focused on their long-term goal – earning a degree and getting a good job.”