WSA ‘Real Talk’ Program Brings College to the Classroom

     Published on 6/11/18   Tagged under:    District News    Westside Academy at Blodgett   

This is a photo of students sitting in a circle at their desks having a conversation.At Westside Academy at Blodgett, Syracuse University students from the Juvenile Urban Multicultural Program (J.U.M.P. Nation) visit every Friday for what they call ‘Real Talk.’
The SU mentors talk with the middle school students about issues like bullying, leadership, effective communication and more – with the goal of creating an open space for the students to address frustrations and find their similarities as they learn to work through issues together.
Nabilah Mustafa, President of J.U.M.P. Nation at Syracuse University, said that the college students grow to become like an older sibling or mentor, offering conflict management tips and motivation.
“We all come from different backgrounds and have all experienced struggles,” Nabilah explained. “As a Real Talk mentor, I get to witness the growth of students as they became more open and comfortable voicing their opinions and sharing their experiences. They are always excited to see us and invite us to their dance competitions and football games. Most of them view us as role models, and they are always asking us for advice on how to kick start their career.”
As students shared instances of bullying that they had seen or experienced, eighth grade student Janaya Brown said the group has helped she and her classmates interact with each other in a more positive way.
“At J.U.M.P. Nation, they talk to us about how to find better ways to fix our problems,” she said. “They tell us that we should be nice to each other and not judge people. They also tell us about high school and college and their jobs and how they got there. It’s helping us figure out what we want to do in the future and how to prepare. Really, it’s helping us to become mature adults!”
Staff say they have seen a change in students’ attitude since starting the ‘Real Talk’ sessions.
“There has been a change in mindset as our students now see themselves as college bound,” School Counselor Jamie Days said. “The program gives students a different perspective on college life from students who are close to their age range who look and dress like them. It has motivated them to start thinking about college at an early age and provides a form of support as they discuss real life issues with students who can closely relate to them.”
Thank you to the SU students who have mentored our students through J.U.M.P. Nation!