Bronco BUDS: A World of Opportunity
KPS Sixth Graders Make Annual Trek to WMU
Kalamazoo Public Schools students have an obligation to make the most of their educations.
That’s what Dr. Toni Woolfork-Barnes, director of the Western Michigan University Office of Student Transitions, told sixth graders visiting WMU during the annual Bronco BUDS program in April.
“There are many young people who never have the opportunity to participate in Bronco BUDS,” Woolfork-Barnes told students. “There are vast numbers of young people across the United States who do not have access to the Kalamazoo Promise.”
Bronco BUDS (Building Unique Dynamic Students) brings sixth graders to the college campus for a day of fun activities, such as walking tours, classroom experiences, and eating in the dining halls.
But there is a serious message too. As part of the effort to build a college-going atmosphere within KPS, organizers introduce students to college life and engage them in planning for their futures.
Woolfork-Barnes told students that she was a product of Detroit Public Schools and was the first person in her family to graduate from college.
“As a young person, I was just like each one of you,” she said. “I loved to learn and I loved to read. I had people in my life who said, ‘You can be successful.’ I had people who supported me and told me I could make a difference.”
Take advantage of the wisdom and experiences of those people who are willing to support and guide you, she said.
“Sometimes those people can look a lot of different ways,” she said. “Sometimes it might be your parents. It might be aunts and uncles and cousins. It might be people just like the people in this room. It’s important for each and every one of you to understand and believe there are people who want you to be successful.”
Keenan King, director of WMU’s Upward Bound program, which brings students to campus for six-week long camps, told students, “We cannot tell you what you want for your life.
“The reason for you to come to campus is we want to expose you to campus and all of these programs, but you have to ask questions, to explore and to be a nerd. Because the reality is either you’ll be a nerd or you’re going to work for a nerd in the future.”
Woolfork-Barnes asked the students to consider people like Shaquille O’Neal, KPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice, and President Barack Obama. What, she asked, did those people have in common?
“They all come from different backgrounds,” she said. “They all have different experiences. They all attended different types of colleges. They saw the value in becoming college educated and how that can open doors for you.
“I want you to see yourself in some of these people. You don’t need to walk the walk that they walked, but you need a college education, because you have to do this for yourselves. You have an obligation to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you.”