As SEAD draws to a close, participants reflect

by Kathleen McDermott | 7/19/01 5:00am

Mary Ignacio, a sophomore at Enfield's Mascoma High School, was sitting in class one morning when an intercom announcement directed her and her fellow classmates to a special presentation.

In excited voices, the school's administrators explained a new summer program -- Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) -- that Mascoma students were invited to apply for.

Ignacio discussed the program with her parents, requested the two weeks off from her summer job and on July 8 arrived on the Hanover campus.

The SEAD program -- co-sponsored by the Tucker Foundation and the education department -- has brought thirty students from Mascoma High School, South Boston's Dorchester High School and various schools in Philadelphia to Dartmouth for what organizers hope has been educationally enriching experience. (The program ends tomorrow.)

Ignacio noted, for example, that neither her hometown of Canaan, NH -- population 3,500 -- nor Mascoma High School are very diverse, while in her two weeks

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here she has met students from a variety of backgrounds.

And although she lamented that the classes -- held every weekday morning and afternoon in math, English and computer science -- are a bit on the long side, overall she said she's "having a blast."

Class discussions range from exponents and polynomials to which baseball team -- the Philadelphia Phillys or Boston Red Sox -- is better, Ignacio said, although she was quick to add that she sees such inter-city rivalries as fruitless.

As she contemplates her plans after SEAD and high school, Ignacio hopes to attend a small college similar to Dartmouth and study to become an English teacher. "English is the basis for everything," she explained.

Fellow SEAD participant Earl Grant -- who hails from Boston's Dorchester neighborhood -- shares Ignacio's passion for English.

According to SEAD director Jay Davis '90, Grant is an excellent writer who has already drawn high praise from the program's English teachers.

Grant explained that in the English course he has written several autobiographical poems, which he plans to upload onto the website he's creating through the computer science course.

According to Grant, the SEAD program has expanded his horizons as far as potential careers, from website design -- which he characterizes as "pretty easy and will rake in a lot of dough" -- to radiology and ultrasound technology, which he caught sight of during a tour of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center several days ago.

For Ashley Nyme -- a 15 year-old SEAD participant from Philadelphia -- the past two weeks have been enough to convince her to consider applying to Dartmouth in two years.

Before arriving for the program, Nyme had never been to New Hampshire, and the mountains, bright stars at night and clear skies of Hanover were a pleasant change of pace from urban life, she explained.

By far her favorite experience so far has been the group's trip over the weekend to Mt. Moosilauke, in which the students hiked the mountain and spend the night in the woods camping, she said.

Her days have also been lightened by her Dartmouth mentor, Lola Adedokun '03, Nyme said, adding that when she lost her shoes, it was Adedokun who helped her pick out a new pair.

Looking to the future, Nyme explained that in her family, "all the girls want to be nurses."

Yet she has different ideas in mind, setting her sights on less traditionally female jobs and hoping to become a doctor or explore a career in medical technology. "I want to be the one who stands out, does something different," she added.