Summit seeks to help higher education become reality for children of color

January 11, 2014 Updated: January 13, 2014 at 11:30 am
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photo - Mayra Infante, foreground, and CharLea Polk learn to suture a wound by practicing on bananas during a health sciences breakout session Saturday at the Educating Children of Color Summit at Colorado College. Photo by Mark Reis
Mayra Infante, foreground, and CharLea Polk learn to suture a wound by practicing on bananas during a health sciences breakout session Saturday at the Educating Children of Color Summit at Colorado College. Photo by Mark Reis 

More than 1,200 people gathered at Colorado College on Saturday to learn about potential.

Limitless potential.

The 7th annual Educating Children of Color Summit drew teachers, parents and students to see how that potential can be turned into a bright future for a population that too is limited by poverty, family strife and educational struggles.

"We're trying to turn that around," said Judge Regina Walter, who sees the program as a way to keep minority kids out of her El Paso County courtroom.

Walter ticked off statistics: A third of black men will serve prison time, a seventh of Hispanic men will wind up behind bars.

"A disproportionate number of kids of color are impacted by negative outcomes," she said.

For teachers, the summit provides tools to help them engage children who might not find classroom topics relevant to their lives. Parents got tips about how to keep their kids on the right path at school and tools to help them finance college.

Students got pep talks and a look at how far education can take them.

"I think it's good to give people an opportunity to see what it would be like to be a doctor," said Dr. Vicki Schober, a family practice physician who runs the student health center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Schober and other health care professionals ran 90-minute sessions that let students learn how to stitch open wounds, diagnose ailments and bandage sprains.

It was designed to give kids a look at the hands-on work of medicine.

"We don't make them do the paperwork," she said.

Dr. Tamara Fuller-Eddins, a Colorado Springs obstetrician, said along with the stitches - sewn on bananas for demonstration purposes - students got a dose of hope. "It gives them an opportunity to see what is possible," she said.

Between talks about medical skills, Fuller-Eddins answered questions about how to get into medical school and, more critically, how to pay for it.

The former Navy physician discussed the pantheon of scholarships and loans that can make expensive school attainable for ambitious kids.

"They can find other avenues to get their education funded," she said.

Those seeds of hope help students turn dreams into reality, said Walter.

"It puts them on the path," she said.

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