Donna Pesta, Director of SUNY Cobleskill’s Student Success Center, played an instrumental role in the College for Every Student (CFES) Conference, held on November 7-8 in Burlington, Vermont. Leading the panel, “One Million More: Reaching Our Goal Together,” Pesta discussed ways to leverage organizational knowledge, practices, networks and experience in order to achieve the goal of making a college education accessible for more students.
“I have really enjoyed working with CFES during the past six years,” remarks Pesta. “I grew-up in Otsego County and many of my classmates never even thought of college as an option. The CFES program has changed student’s attitudes and expectations about attending college and I’m so proud to be involved.”
The two-day “One Million More” event gathered 430 educators, students, community and corporate leaders from 78 schools and 30 colleges across the United States and Ireland to share strategies to help one million low-income students attain post-secondary education and become workforce ready by 2025.
SUNY Cobleskill has been able to assist in the One Million More goal is by hosting the Sophomore Summit for students from Otsego County in 2013 and 2014. 359 students attended the March 2014 Sophomore Summit at SUNY Cobleskill alongside 76 college and industry representatives, encouraging students to start thinking about future careers and college options earlier in their high school career.
Opening remarks at the event were given by CFES President and CEO Rick Dalton. Counselor Kristen Shearer of Schenevus Central School shared current theories and best practices to help schools and colleges focus on helping low-income students to persist and graduate. New York Times columnist David Brooks delivered a keynote speech emphasizing the importance of building character to succeed in education and in life.
College For Every Student serves over 20,000 students in 200 schools throughout the United States and Ireland. By implementing three core practices – Mentoring, Leadership Through Service, and Pathways to College – CFES develops essential skills such as resilience, teamwork and leadership that help underserved youth get to and through college.