Moscow, Idaho – Every spring, when college admission time comes around, Peggy Jenkins is on pins and needles waiting for acceptance letters not just for one young student but for 15. Or 20.
“I can’t guarantee them anything and they work so hard on those applications,” said Jenkins, who’s the Executive Director of Palouse Pathways, a non-profit that supports the advancement of educational and career opportunities in the Palouse.
Palouse Pathways works with students from Lewiston, Potlatch, Moscow, Genesee, Nez Perce and other smaller school districts near Moscow.
“Five years ago, we got this idea that if we worked with a cohort of kids instead of individuals then we could really make an impact,” Jenkins said. “The school counselors are doing an excellent job serving the kids’ needs. What we can do is help the kids with different aspirations.”
Founded in 2013, Palouse Pathways works with somewhere between 15 and 20 students in grades 9 to 12 every year. Jenkins was inspired to create the nonprofit while her own son was in high school in Moscow.
“Our general programming is about how to pay for college and also about how you best explore different colleges and degrees,” Jenkins said. “We do talk about alternatives to college, but our main focus is getting the students to college.” Sometimes, she added, students find exactly what they are looking for at the University of Idaho.
“A lot of what Palouse Pathways does is conscious raising,” Jenkins said.
Smaller school districts can be isolated and it can be difficult for a student with aspirations outside of the local community to find their way.
“We help the students come up with what’s important for them,” Jenkins said. “Some kids are really worried about the future, or they aren’t sure they will have one.”
High school students now worry about global warming destroying the planet, war and pandemics.
“Those are some very big worries,” Jenkins said. “But the future is going to come no matter what. What we try to tell them is that there is a lot of possibilities out there.”
Palouse Pathways provides information about degree programs and colleges, and careers, that aren’t represented locally.
“They don’t necessarily see the range of professions that are out there,” Jenkins said. “We show them, and we let them peel back the layers and find what they really want to do.”
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