This weekend, I came up to Binghamton for the 21st year of J.U.M.P (Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program) Nation. The program brings up 8th grade students that reside or attend school in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx, who are essentially at risk of dropping out, for a four-day weekend. These students are recommended by their principals and teachers. I was a part of this program when I was in 8th grade, and I made a promise to myself that I would either join the executive board if I attended Binghamton or would charter a J.U.M.P Nation at the college or university I attended.
J.U.M.P had an unexpected impact on me and the way I perceived college. I knew I had to attend college to achieve my goals, but I didn’t think about what other kids my age were thinking. I automatically assumed that this was their vision as well, but after the weekend I saw that not everyone has the same aspirations, because not everyone has a positive role model who looks after them or that they could look up to.
My vision is to see more people on this campus that look like me. I see them coming from the same or similar backgrounds of that which I grew up in. We need more mentors who will advocate for our youth. As college students, it’s easy to go away and not come back to where we were raised. It’s so easy, because you don’t have to see the struggles again. You don’t have to relive it through your siblings or that kid in the street at 10am who should be in school. I was so afraid of coming back home, because I knew reality would hit. I knew that while I was at school, the place that I call home was still in turmoil. I was a coward for not wanting to see this or confronting it. But I voiced my opinions to those who needed to hear it this time around, and I made a promise to myself to not give up when things got harder and to eliminate the word can’t from my vocabulary.
I’ve gotten the opportunity to make a different choice for myself along with other J.U.M.P protégés (students) who have attended the weekend or who’ve had a program that provides positive role models and exposes them to new opportunities. Bloggers, please feel free to tell me how you feel about our own Syracuse chapter of J.U.M.P Nation.
By Marytere Acosta Guillon