Lincoln University’s 2013 Summer Academic Enrichment Program (SAE) concluded its extensive six-day program with a banquet last week honoring 36 high school students, double the participation of its inaugural program last year.

The residential program, which offers an ongoing schedule of educational, recreational and cultural activities, is meant to broaden their academic and creative abilities and to expose students to university life. Students participate in workshops, presentations and lively-discussions led by various University administrators, faculty and counselors on study skills and time management, career choices and decision-making, understanding the SAT exam and navigating the college admissions process.

“It was truly an honor to work with all the students who began and completed this program,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and SAE Program Director Dr. F. Carl Walton, before distributing certificates of completion Friday. “What you all have demonstrated is the commitment you have toward your futures. When you take your life into your own hands, anything is possible.”

Juwan Cheeks, a 16-year-old honors student and rising junior at Washington D.C.’s Eastern Senior High School agreed.

“You can have whatever you want in this world,” he said. “But you’ve got to want it.”

Cheeks and six other Eastern Senior High students were recommended by their schools Physical Education Teacher and Boys Basketball Coach Emmanuel Kakulu, who was a 2011 graduate of the university.

“Many of my students want to go to college, and for rising juniors, the process of selecting and applying to schools is set to begin,” said Kakulu. “When I heard that Lincoln would be having a summer academic enrichment program, I had no reservations in recommending my students for participation. I know how profoundly Lincoln has affected my life. And although a weeklong summer program cannot compare to four years of living and learning at an institution, it does in many ways mimic the life of a university student.”

To participate in SAE, rising juniors or seniors complete an application and are evaluated on grade point average, standardized test scores and a recommendation from a high school teacher or guidance counselor.

While last year’s inaugural program included mostly rising seniors, this year’s participants also included rising juniors from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.

“Your (the students) participation and completion tells more about who you (they) are than anyone else ever could,” said Lincoln University President Dr. Robert R. Jennings, who congratulated the participants. “It’s not only about getting these students to come to Lincoln, but about getting them to go to college.”

SGA Executive Treasurer Micheal Frazier and Charish Anderson, president of Lincoln’s Class of 2014 and its National Society of Leadership and Success, both seniors, were among a staff of nine upperclassmen counselors, who echoed the importance and necessity of the program.

“I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, with many peers who never saw college as a viable option,” he said. “The Summer Academic Enrichment Program fosters rising juniors and seniors in an environment that stimulates ownership of success-defining principles. I’m honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to impact and serve these bright young students by showing them the Lincoln I have come to love.”

The university’s ability to double the outreach of a program serving high school students during a time when federal spending cuts have forced many universities and colleges to abandon such initiatives altogether is a feat that has not gone unnoticed.

Said Anderson: “The federal sequester has eliminated vital educational initiatives nationwide, making the Summer Academic Enrichment Program all the more integral.”