By Brian Harris, Staff Writer
On February 3, 2018, the annual College Now: Share the Dream banquet celebrated its 50th anniversary.
A collection of faculty, alumni, and the students themselves, the Share the Dream banquet serves to highlight the fantastic contributions College Now has made to our school’s continued success. But, that begs the question, what exactly does College Now do? We spoke to College Now director Craig Elkins to find out. “College Now was created more than 50 years ago by UMass Dartmouth to assist high school students who need a non-traditional way to enroll in college,” explained Director Elkins. “Serving educationally disadvantaged students, our highly individualized selection process allows us to evaluate individual situations and provide the needed support to help motivated students succeed here at UMass D.”
So, for over fifty years, College Now has lent a helping hand to prospective students who need it, which of course leads perfectly to the Share the Dream banquet itself.
“The Share the Dream banquet is an opportunity for College Now and the University to highlight and celebrate the success of our students,” Director Elkins continued.
“Scholarships opportunities are awarded to both upper-class and first year students who successfully completed our Fall Academic Program. At this event we honor current and past students and allow them the opportunity to share their educational experiences and future plans. Lastly, we use this banquet to signify the completion of the College Now Fall Academic Program and to transition successful students into the University and their College of choice.”
For a tradition so long standing, the banquet’s turnout certainly didn’t show its age. “We had 269 students, faculty, staff, administrators, family and community members RSVP for the event,” Director Elkins told us, “this was one of the largest banquets to date.”
And of course, a celebration like this wouldn’t be complete without some incredible guests. This year’s banquet brought with it a slew of faculty and alumni speakers, each of whom brought their own experience and intellect to the literal table. What’s striking about the guest list for this event is that they all, in one way or another, had a connection to College Now and the celebration of success that the organization hopefully represents.
Chancellor Robert E. Johnson attended, representing the school at large at the event. But what’s slightly more surprising is the collection of speakers outside of our Chancellor. Take, for example, Carol Spencer, a UMass Dartmouth alumnus from the class of 1992 who served as the former director of College Now, ending her tenure in 2013. Or how about senior speaker Rashelle Noncent; currently a peer mentor at College Now, Rashelle has made a positive impact on many of the students that benefit from the College Now program. These speakers highlight College Now’s goals and importance at UMass Dartmouth.
With over fifty years of history behind it, College Now will continue to help underprivileged students survive and thrive in the complicated world of UMass Dartmouth. And that’s something to celebrate, which is why the College Now: Share the Dream banquet has been, and will continue to be such a massive success. Here’s to the next fifty years.