Deborah Martin, FCAN’s Policy Analyst, accepts an award from Patrick Simon of the Citrus County Coalition for College and Careers, recognizing FCAN’s support of Summer RISE.

Life after high school can seem incredibly daunting.

There is a multitude of deadlines to remember, applications to be sent, and conversations to be had. These pressures are placed on seniors while they simultaneously have to worry about maintaining good grades, participating in their school clubs, and playing their favorite sport one last time before they graduate high school.

Whether a soon-to-be graduate decides to pursue a standard 2- or 4-year degree, a technical credential, or jump straight into the workforce, there’s a lot of preparation that happens to make sure these students can continue onto the path of success.

Citrus County understands this well and, since 2017, has taken the initiative to provide its students with the tools they need to succeed.

The county’s LCAN — the Citrus County Coalition for College and Careers (CCCCC) — once again partnered with several organizations in the area to host Summer RISE, a two-day event where incoming high school seniors in Citrus’s three high schools (Citrus High School, Crystal River High School, and Lecanto High School) learn valuable skills and information, such as applying for the FAFSA, writing a college essay, and participating in mock interviews.

Summer RISE students participated in mock interviews with members of the community.

The 2022 edition of Summer RISE took place July 26-27. In addition to CCCCC and FCAN’s support, Summer RISE was also possible thanks to the Citrus County Education Foundation, Citrus County Public Schools, Withlacoochee Technical College, YMCA, the Citrus County Chronicle, and College of Central Florida, which hosted the event at its Citrus campus.

Iris Torres, a student at Citrus High School, plans to attend the University of Central Florida (UCF) and major in architecture. She sees herself specializing in residential architecture, building affordable homes for individuals with special needs. When asked how this event benefitted her, Iris mentioned that this has definitely “opened up my eyes to what I need to be prepared for.”

The reach and capacity of the Summer RISE program has grown in just a few short years. The first Summer RISE class in 2017 had 26 students, while nearly 100 students participated this year. Students are clearly recognizing they have to be prepared for life after high school and attend this event despite some nerves.

Julia Parker, an incoming senior at Lecanto High School and student body president, initially had some reservations about going.

Fifteen of this year’s Summer RISE participants received a $500 scholarship, while another 15 participants received a laptop.

“I was really nervous and felt unprepared,” Julia said. “Coming here was a reality check and now I have a list of dates I need to know. This helped me realize what needs to be done in the next few months.” Julia plans to get her degree in business and looks forward to becoming a small business owner in the future.

In addition to helping students plan for the future, Summer RISE also gave some students some present-day assistance. Towards the end of the workshop, 15 of this year’s Summer RISE students received a $500 scholarship (courtesy of CCCCC) and another 15 received a laptop (courtesy of the Citrus Education Foundation). The scholarships were awarded based on an application submitted by the students in attendance, while the laptop winners were randomly selected.

Shaunda Burdette, executive director of the foundation, said this past year’s funding surpassed $2 million, with 91% going back to students and the community.

Dylan Novak, a student at Lecanto High School, was one of the students who received $500. Like Julia, Dylan was hesitant to come to Summer RISE.

This year’s event featured a student panel of past Summer RISE participants.

After talking with his parents and realizing the value this opportunity could bring, he realized this was a way to “better himself.” With the tools and information he gained, Dylan feels better prepared for the steps he needs to take during his last year of high school. Dylan plans to study a major under the mental health umbrella. Although he hasn’t narrowed it down yet, he recognizes how important mental health is to him and wants to pursue a path that would allow him to help others.

Summer RISE is a wonderful example of how a community can come together to invest in the future and well-being of its residents. The assistance doesn’t stop after two days: students also sign up for text alerts that will notify them of scholarships and volunteer opportunities throughout the year, along with reminders of incoming deadlines.

Without any signs of stopping anytime soon, Summer RISE will continue to be a resource for students from the start of their participation to graduation.

Good luck to all of the incoming seniors!


Summer RISE elevates senior potential for future (via The Citrus County Chronicle)
Citrus County Coalition offers year-round college application support for seniors
Lecanto High is taking a whole-school approach to helping students with college and career

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