Detroit Students Venture North for an Adventure in Learning

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Cass Tech student Lena Cintron, 16, of Detroit, is one purposeful young woman.

“I know what I want to do,” she says, “and I want to make sure I get there.”

She aspires to work in advertising and marketing, and as she maps her future, she participates in the Summer Youth Program at Michigan Technological University.

Cintron is winding down a week of classes and field trips—called explorations— in photography. It is her third trip north in three years. She attended the program twice before and studied video production and video gaming.

Other explorations range from creative writing to wilderness training, from robotics to wolf ecology.

Tech’s summer program has attracted 800 youngsters in grades 6–11 this year. Coordinator Cody Kangas describes the program as “a stimulating but stress-free environment” for youngsters to learn without grades and exams. As well, it offers a taste of college life, career opportunity, and what college, in particular Michigan Tech, has to offer.

Kangas calls it “adventure learning.”

Says Cass Tech’s Cintron, “It gives me the opportunity to narrow down my interests in a comfortable environment.”

She doesn’t dabble. For instance, she’s reading a book on Japanese and American comic books, how they differ and where they’re targeted. She’s absorbed in consumer psychology. “When I watch ads,” she says, “I analyze them. I love to figure out what drives consumers.”

Kelsey Turner, 15, of Detroit’s Regina High School, is equally self-assured. She wants to be a pharmacist. She enrolled in Tech’s Women in Computer Science program. She enjoyed it but wouldn’t want to sit at a computer all day. The course reaffirmed her intention to be a pharmacist.

“The week is going pretty good,” she says. “I had high expectations coming up here and so far they’ve all been met. It was well worth it. I wanted to get a feel for other academic programs.”

She is centered on more than career opportunity. “I want to be a good mother, a good wife, the best sister and the best daughter.”

The Summer Youth Program at Tech draws mainly from Lower Michigan, but students also came from as far away as South Korea, China, and Greece.

Kangas says the program basically encourages youngsters to go to college.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.