Pericles sabbatical assists college admissions organization
Darris Means, assistant director of the Elon Academy, spent time this summer working with the National Association for College Admission Counseling in Arlington, Va., as part of the Project Pericles Service Sabbatical.
Founded in 1937, NACAC is an organization of more than 11,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC also monitors policy and research relevant to the college admission counseling profession with the intention of relaying information with practical applications to association members.
Means spent two weeks conducting research related to college admission practices, college access and public policy. He also developed policy and research briefs for the organization.
“Most people who have completed a service sabbatical have done a direct, hands-on experience, but I decided to go a different route,” he said. “I wanted to work closely with an organization involved with public policy and advocacy to learn valuable tools and resources to better advocate on behalf of students with a financial need and/or no family history of college.
“I saw this as an opportunity to connect national policy to what I am doing here in Alamance County with the Elon Academy.”
Means also had the opportunity to meet with leaders working on national college-access and success initiatives. He met with officials from the National College Access Network in Washington to learn best practices for college-access and success programs.
“I plan to take this information to improve the Elon Academy, so we can better serve our students and families,” Means said. “This service sabbatical has energized me to take the Elon Academy to the next level.”
Elon University launched the Elon Academy in 2006 to give students from local high schools the opportunity to embrace education, develop leadership skills and engage in various outreach venues.
Modeled after similar programs at Princeton, Furman and Vanderbilt universities, the Academy is a year-round program for students in the Alamance-Burlington School System who have financial need or have no family history of college attendance. It combines three intensive four-week summer residential experiences at Elon with a variety of academic activities throughout the school year.
Its goal is to inspire and empower students to attend four-year colleges or universities, and go on to assume leadership roles in their communities.
Service sabbaticals are open to university employees with two or more years of employment at the university. They allow staff to spend up to one month away from their normal duties to work full time for a community organization yet still receive a regular paycheck.