By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – Fourth-graders were full of wonder and excitement Tuesday as they explored the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus.
“Are you the principal?” a student asked Scot Fransk, UNK recreation coordinator, before the students participated in an intramural activity.
“Is there an arcade here?” another student asked.
Students from Amherst, Axtell, Pleasanton and Elm Creek Elementary Schools visited campus as part of Early Awareness Day.
“It’s just really important that we talk to kids about what education means,” said Becca Dobry, Early Awareness coordinator. “It’s not just going to school, it’s preparing for a career.”
Early Awareness Day, which is in its 22nd year, allows elementary students to experience college life. The 75 fourth-graders took a tour of residence halls, saw a chemistry experiment in the Bruner Hall of Science, toured the radio station in the Mitchell Center in the Calvin T. Ryan Library, saw a glass blowing demonstration and learned about stop-motion animation from art education professors.
“It’s really important that UNK is involved because these kids are our future,” Dobry said. “They are our next generation of college students.”
Melinda Hogeland of EducationQuest said the event helps students from rural areas learn about a variety of careers.
“This partnership with UNK gives young students an awareness about what careers are out there and to let them know that you have to go to college to obtain a career,” Hogeland said.
EducationQuest, a nonprofit organization working to improve access to higher education in Nebraska, partners with the schools and UNK for Early Awareness Day.
“Students get an opportunity to see what a four-year college offers,” said Axtell Community School fourth-grade teacher Bette Dimon.
“I want my kids in fourth grade to succeed. I want them to think about getting good grades now so they can get scholarships later.”
Dimon has been taking her students to Early Awareness Day since she started teaching fourth grade 15 years ago.