Educational milestones honored at ACCESS Scholar Honors Reception

Mother and her young child place graduation caps on their heads.

Educational milestones honored at ACCESS Scholar Honors Reception

by Paige Galperin

The path to graduation is riddled with roadblocks for every Buckeye. For parenting students, however, attending college brings even more challenges and requires even more sacrifices—making graduation even more special.

ODI's ACCESS Collaborative Program honored this important occasion for the class of 2024 with its Scholar Honors Reception in late April. The event recognized parenting students on the cusp of graduation and their children's academic achievements, in spirit with the program's two-generation educational approach.

The ceremony also celebrated participants in the CHAMPS and AYM mentoring programs, components of ACCESS that provide individualized support for parenting students in high school. Children in the AYM Program spent the academic year working on a group project, which they presented at the reception.

“The ACCESS Scholar Honors Reception was an exciting and fulfilling experience. The reception is a great opportunity to get together with our students and their families and celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates,” said Jessica Parent, CHAMPS Program Manager. “To see the various levels of achievements, from the school-agers up to college graduates, is very special.”

Another highlight of the event was the inclusion of ACCESS alumni. Jillian Deas, an ACCESS alum who is now a teacher at Linden STEM Academy, served as the program's keynote speaker, and Crystal Files, program alum and Vice President of Talent and Inclusion at American Family Insurance—an ACCESS partner—gave special remarks.

“To know that our alumni return to give back or enthusiastically answer our call—what a testament to the impact the program had on their lives. All of this is why I absolutely love my job,” commented Traci Lewis, ACCESS Collaborative Director.

by Paige While the reception marked a milestone for the parenting students, it also celebrated the enduring success of the ACCESS program and the dedication of its staff. “This event is the highlight for me. To know the students' struggles and challenges and then see the accomplishments—it makes the mama in me proud,” Lewis said. “I've been in this position for almost 18 years, and from the children to the scholars themselves, it never gets old. I love that they allow me to walk alongside them in their journeys.”