Penn State Educational Partnership Program Celebrate 25 Years of Student Success

In May 2015, Jordy Lemus will graduate from Penn State University Park with a B.S. in Material Science and Engineering. His journey began with the Penn State Educational Partnership Program, offered through Penn State Berks and the Reading School District.

This year, Penn State Berks is celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Penn State Educational Partnership Program (PEPP), an early-intervention collaboration between Penn State Berks and the Reading School District. The mission of the program is to enhance academic preparedness and motivation levels in its Reading School District participants to pursue higher education. As PEPP has grown over the past 25 years, so has its success rate. The program has helped countless students attend college who may never have considered higher education.

PEPP also recruits and trains students from Penn State Berks, most of whom are Childhood and Early Education majors, to act as PEPP Learning Assistants (PLAs). In this role, the Penn State Berks students serve as tutors and mentors, and are positive role models who lead and inspire the PEPP students.

Lemus began in the PEPP program as a sixth grader in Southern Middle School and continued through his senior year in Reading Senior High School.

?My favorite part of PEPP was being able to go to Penn State Berks and shadow students,? he explains. ?My career path changed so much each year. I started wanting to major in psychology, then ? I wanted to take it a bit further and look into psychiatry... until one day PEPP took a science field trip to Penn State, which was when I knew I had found something that interested me. Once I got to high school, I wanted to join more Penn State affiliated programs to get me familiar with the University and their Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs.?

He went on to join Upward Bound Math and Science, which allowed him to complete two years of Material Science and Engineering research at Penn State University Park as a high school student. After those two years of research, he was awarded the Bunton Waller Fellowship, an eight-semester award that covers tuition fees and room and board.

During his time at Penn State, Lemus continued conducting research, which opened doors to internships. He completed two internships with ArcelorMittal, the world?s leading steel and mining company, as a metallurgical intern in the Quality and Assurance Department.

Penn State has also helped him grow as a leader in the community. He joined the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers during his sophomore year, and eventually became Executive Vice President. He also started Penn State?s first Colombian American Student Association with four of his friends. His states that his long-term goal is to give back to the community that has given so much to him.

This is just one of many PEPP success stories. Currently at Penn State Berks, Tye Morales is a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering with dual minors in Biology and Chemistry. He has already completed an internship at an architecture firm and has another internship lined up in his desired field. Meanwhile, Adalbys Ventura is a junior majoring in Applied Psychology with a minor in Spanish. Last semester, she made the Dean?s List, and was the first student at the college to receive the Spanish Minor Award.

Morales comments, ?The PLAs introduced me to the possibilities on campus. My brothers, both currently students at Reading Senior High School, now have PLAs who I have class with and work alongside on campus. I know that the program is still doing what it did for me when I was in it, and that is a comfort.?

History of PEPP

When Penn State University President Bryce Jordan first introduced PEPP, it was a developmental and preparation program for teachers. Over the last quarter century, it has evolved into much more. PEPP has had over 3,000 elementary, junior high, and high school students participate in the program and over 2,000 PEPP Learning Assistants (PLAs).

Jordan recognized that it was important for college preparation to begin much earlier than in high school because by that time it could be too late to reach students, or to get them on the right track for their personal aspirations.

PEPP is geared toward the average C student: one who is competent. From the start, the goal was to help this group of competent students who has potential because it is easy for kids from this group to slip through the cracks.

For more information on PEPP, contact Guadalupe Kasper, PEPP Program Coordinator, at 610-396-6272 or via e-mail at [email protected].