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Loyola at a Glance

Summer mentor program prepares high schoolers for college

July 16, 2010

Loyola University New Orleans Twomey Center’s summer program is watching its waiting list grow as it embarks on its fourth summer program that stresses the importance of math, science and a college education to public high school students from minority communities.

The highly-demanded Pre-college Incubation Experience for Majoring in Math and the Natural Sciences, or PRIEMMANS program, has enrolled 29 high school students from different ethnic backgrounds including African, Chinese, Filipino, Palestinian, Pakistani, Vietnamese and others. PRIEMMANS director Alvaro Alcazar, Ph.D., selects students through a competitive application and interview process.

PRIEMMANS was established as part of Loyola’s Twomey Center for Peace through Justice in 2007 to attract public high school students to major in math and the natural sciences at Loyola or any other university of their choice so that they would pursue careers in these fields as adults.

PRIEMMANS’ mission is to incubate in the participants’ minds and hearts a passion for math and the natural sciences within a collaborative, creative, peaceable and cross-cultural environment.

The program has successfully helped its students graduate from high school and enroll in college, according to Alcazar. PRIEMMANS graduates have attended Louisiana State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Dillard and one is currently enrolled in Loyola. Loyola will welcome two more graduates this fall.

“Our success is having the students graduate from high school and make it into college when there are so many odds against them. We teach them how to turn their dreams into achievable realities while, at the same time, learning how to build caring relationships with people of different cultures,” said Alcazar.

With the consultation of Loyola biology professor Frank Jordan, Ph.D., and associate professor of mathematics Maria Calzada, Ph.D., Alcazar has created a program which includes creative and interactive lessons to grab the attention of the students into these fields. The students partake in numerous field trips, including visits to the W. J. DeFelice Marine Center and University of New Orleans’ chemistry labs.

Through mentoring relationships with college students, faculty and staff, PRIEMMANS program participants see the importance of a rigorous education in a global context. Math lessons are lead by Sister Theresa Billeaud, former Benjamin Franklin High School teacher, while the science lessons are lead by Sheila Lumod, current Edna Karr Secondary School teacher. In addition, the program staff includes Bert Brennan a doctoral practicum student and four junior faculty members who are all Loyola students: Sam Bradley, Zaina Mansour, Tien Tran and Justine Sundrud. The lessons are held in Mercy Hall and the chemistry labs on Loyola’s main campus.

The day is divided into math and science sessions with a break and free lunch prepared by Alcazar. During the break, the students are given the opportunity to use Loyola’s resources through engaging in art and music projects, soccer games in the Residential Quad and exploring the university library. Following the lessons, the students are able to remain on campus to utilize Loyola’s gym and pool, furthering the program’s mission to provide high school students with a full college experience.

“The program not only encourages the students to do well in math and science but also to develop themselves as caring and creative adults. The program helps the students make decisions that will impact their future,” said Alcazar. “The program is also an embodiment of Loyola’s social justice mission of developing men and women with and for others.”

The summer program began on July 12 and will continue through August 12. The students attend the program Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. During the fall and spring, PRIEMMANS continues through four-hour Saturday sessions, held every-other weekend, allowing the program to ensure its students remain on track during the school year. Students can remain with the program until they graduate from high school.

PRIEMMANS is currently accepting donations to heighten and expand its program. To make a donation, contact Stephanie Hotard, development officer for the College of Social Sciences at sahotard@loyno.edu or 504-861-5775.

For more information on PRIEMMANS, contact Alcazar at 504-864-7868 or aalcazar@loyno.edu.

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