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Drury Scholars: African-American High School Kids Get a Taste of College Life

Dangelo Bedel, Drury Scholar
Dangelo Bedel, Drury Scholar

Drury University’s “Summer Scholars” program provides local African American high school kids a taste of what it’s like to be a successful in college.  The program, which has been going on this week, is designed to narrow the achievement gap between African-American students and their peers in the Springfield community.

“My name’s Bruce Callen, and I’m one of the Co-Directors of the Drury University Scholars program,” said Callen.

Callen says the program started as a response from community dialogue.  He and a few colleagues at Drury sat down and decided to make a plan to do what they could to narrow that gap for African American students.

“Less Often for African America students they are less likely to stay in school all the way until graduation. They are less likely to take the ACT, and their average scores aren’t where the overall average is. Things that contribute to keeping them both from succeeding in high school, to the extent that the average student in Springfield does, and also create more of a barrier for them as they heading on to higher education,” explained Callen.

This week, more than 50 Drury Scholars have been participating in the summer portion of the program, with a theme this year of “Are you ready?” This morning, the students ended the week by taking their own practice ACT test in a simulated test environment, so the scholars can see for themselves if they are ready for the real deal…and what they need to focus on for next time.

The   teenagers have lived in the residence halls with other Drury students, eaten meals in the cafeteria, and moved from building to building classes in communication, math , language arts, history,  acting, and social media.

In a history class on Thursday morning, some were learning about Civil Rights, the March from Selma to Montgomery, and the value of the written word.  Peter Meidlinger, Co-Director for the program was teaching the lesson.

“If you’re reading sporting news, that’s good, if you’re reading a magazine about music, that’s good. Keep your eyes on the written word, and occasionally challenge yourself. Go to the library and pick up one of the books that he talks about here, about African-American history and the Voting Rights Act. Every time you read something you’re going to be a better reader the next time you read something.”

Dangelo Bedel is a Drury Scholar. After the lesson, Bedel waited a moment to comment on his thoughts from the lesson.

“Those people that [were] beaten for our rights and our freedom of speech, I appreciate them for doing that because if we didn’t have that right now, then I don’t know what America would be like. It probably would be segregated and we wouldn’t be able to interact with the people that we get to today,” said Bedel.

He recommends the program for others in Springfield.

“Drury Scholars is a great program. I’ve been here for four years now, and I really enjoy the experience every time I come here. I get to learn new things and interact with different people from different schools, and I like the experience because and every time I come I always have something different I take back home,” says Bedel.

The cost of the Drury Summer Scholars program is $25 and is waived if the student participates in community service.

For a link to more information about the Drury Scholars program, go to our website-

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.