When you’re in high school. It can seem like college and a career are a distant thought.
“You get told you can do whatever you want to do in life, but until you see people doing that, until you see people committed to bettering themselves all around you, it doesn’t sink in,” said Raheem Martin.
That’s why as a Harrisburg High School graduate and Howard University student, Raheem Martin started Harrisburg to Howard two years ago.
The three main goals for the program are to inspire students to seek higher education, introduce them to positive black role models at historically black colleges and universities and awaken their sense of pride in the Harrisburg community.
“We had around three times as many applicants this year that wanted to do the program and we didn’t want to turn people away. We want to offer this program to as many motivated students as possible,” Martin said.
About 60 students have gone through the program, which is now expanding to other historically black colleges and universities.
“We’re planning on visiting Delaware State University, Lincoln University, and University of the District of Columbia,” Martin said.
As a graduate of an HBCU herself, Tuskegee University, and the chief academic officer for the Harrisburg School District, Jaimie Foster says a program like this is important.
“It is critical for our students to know that there are organizations and universities and colleges where you can go and see students of color be successful and really thrive and achieve,” Foster said.
It’s an experience that Martin doesn’t want to stop after just one visit.
“I want to offer this program to have follow-up opportunities for students in the area…so we can better the students throughout the course of the school year, not just ‘hey thank you for coming,’” Martin said. “We want to make sure that they succeed and go further in life.”
There is an application for the program, which costs $130 for students.
In the past, there have been generous donations from the community, including the Harrisburg Public Schools Foundation, members of Choice Community Christian Church and local fraternities and sororities.