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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Students in step with careers at URI Providence Campus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- August 30, 2001 -- Veronica wants a career as a dancer, Brent can’t wait for a job working with computers, and Shannon can see herself in front of a class filled with elementary students.

These three 15-year-olds were part of a special intensive summer program to build academic and job readiness. Classes were held at the University of Rhode Island’s Providence Campus.

Hired as "research assistants" by URI’s Urban Field Center, the Providence high school students honed their English and math skills. But don’t think they spent six weeks practicing their multiplication tables. Working in small teams in the computer lab, these students learned by doing. They developed a website ( to provide information on teenage disease. Each also created his or her own website.

Funded by the federal Workforce Investment Act, the program targets ninth and tenth grade students from low income families, who are behind grade level, and at risk for dropping out of school.

Maram Hallak, who recently earned her Ph.D. in social psychology, designed the innovative summer program in the hopes that it would be an incentive for students to stay in school, discuss career choices, and learn job expectations and skills. The students were given instruction, often one-on-one, on work ethics such as what it means to be punctual, how to promote oneself, interviewing skills, and anger management.

"The Urban Field Center under the direction of Marcia Feld has been helping inner-city children get excited about school for years," remarked Hallak. "We started this program with 25 students and graduated 22. That’s an impressive retention rate, especially for students who haven’t been attending school, especially in the summer."

"This is going to help me," said Veronica on her graduation day. "I want to go to college and become a dancer. Everybody tells me that I’m talented. But I’ve learned about careers and how to get where I want to go. I realize you have to take it step by step."

Veronica and her fellow students will be tracked throughout the academic year to see how they are progressing. Two additional field trips (they had two) are planned.

For Information: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116

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