• Harrisburg to HBCUs

‘Harrisburg to Howard’ program aims to connect local high-schoolers with role models (Chris Davis)

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - A new program, started by a former Harrisburg School District student, encourages kids in the capital city to check out what college is really like.

It's called Harrisburg to Howard, and the multi-day trip is more than your average college tour.

The guy who started it graduated from Harrisburg High School a couple years ago. He wants to give this group of students an opportunity he didn't really get back then.

"West Chester, Shippensburg, Delaware State," Destiny Greene recalled from the list of colleges she applied to. "Tuskegee, Alabama."

Getting ready for her next step, the Harrisburg senior is hoping to get a glimpse of what she'll find in college next fall.

"It's about academics," she said. "But it's other things that come with it."

She's been on college tours, but none quite like Harrisburg to Howard, which she plans to apply for.

"It kind of gives you like a different look," Greene said. "Like, oh, maybe college isn't what everybody else says. Maybe it's something for me."

"When you're in a classroom sometimes it doesn't connect," college and career counselor Keisha Starling said. "This type of opportunity helps it connect."

Raheem Martin, a sophomore at Howard University in Wahsington, D.C., and the founder of Harrisburg to Howard took ABC27 on a tour via Skype of Founders Library on campus. The recent Harrisburg graduate started the program to give Midstate students a view from inside.

"I got to see the outside of them, what they showed you, like the tours and online," he said of his college tour experience. "But it's not the same as when you get to college and go through the day-by-day."

Students who apply and are accepted get to spend a few days in April with a college student host. They'll stay in dorms, go to classes, tour D.C. and just spend time on the campus of the historically black college.

"It helps you picture yourself in their shoes more than just hearing about it," Martin said. "Seeing them actually shows you that you can do it, it's possible."

It's not so much about encouraging kids to go to Howard, he said. For students like Destiny -- wherever she ends up -- it's is a way to interact with role models who look more like her.

"Being around people like that gives me more excitement," she said.

This first year of the program Martin plans to accept up to 25 students from Harrisburg and surrounding areas. The cost would be $100 for meals and transportation, but the Harrisburg Public Schools Foundation agreed to cover the cost of up to 25 of their students to go.

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