DALLAS — About 200 of Dallas ISD’s Rusk Middle School eighth-graders took over SMU’s campus on Thursday for an end of the year field trip rewarding their academic success.

Exposing students to a college campus, early on, can have a major impact. That is why teachers say it was so significant when Southern Methodist University extended an invitation to Rusk Middle School

“We’ve walked around campus to see if we’re comfortable here,” said Kelli Colli.

The SMU campus was busy with excited middle school students who were getting a sneak-peek into the college experience.

”I really like the physics part,” Sanyah Walton explained.

It was a field trip and exposure to classes and campus life that almost didn’t happen, due to unforeseen budget and transportation challenges. Teachers say many community members have been stepping up to help out over the past couple of weeks.

“This is a big deal, because it gets the kids really excited about their future,” math teacher Sonia Blanks explained.

SMU was eager to host the students. The campus staff tweeted a welcome saying, “We heard you Rusk… we’ll see you and 200 students on the Hilltop.”

SMU staff, students, and administrators engaged the students all morning and afternoon.

“This was a great opportunity for SMU to show our commitment to Dallas and to Dallas ISD,” explained Wes Waggoner, SMU Associate V.P. for Enrollment Management. “It was also an incredible opportunity for students to be able to see a college campus and for us to show them what’s possible.”

Many of the students were visiting a college campus for the first time.

Maurillio Alamo enjoyed the tours. He said, “I saw the engineering building, and I want to become an aero-space engineer, so I think it’s helping me have an idea for my future.”

Rusk’s teachers call the community partnerships powerful.

“Our school is minority, and it’s 50-50 male and women. So, for our women to be on campus, and to understand all of the powerful women we have on campus and to understand all of the prominent women, we’ve got speakers coming to talk to us,” AVID coach Arryan Baker said. “I think that’s phenomenal for them to see that, and for minorities to understand the difference they can make as well. I think it’s powerful.”

It’s another step encouraging these students to be innovators, lifelong learners, and career-oriented thinkers. READ MORE