It's never too early for your first college visit

College is a few years away for Miyakah Banks, but after a visit to the Radford University campus, the aspiring teacher has a good idea about life on campus and her plans for her future.

Banks, a fifth grader at Westside Elementary in Roanoke, toured the university along with more than 100 of her classmates March 20 after an invitation from Radford's Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI).

Crasha Townsend, CDI's director, invited the group to give them encouragement and an appreciation for college. "I want them to know they can do it. They can go to college," she said. "It's attainable."

While on campus, the elementary school students toured numerous campus academic buildings and sites, including the greenhouse, library and the new Student Recreation and Wellness Center, a favorite for Banks.

"I liked that we could run the track and it goes up and down," Banks said.

After tours, lunch and scoring a free Radford University T-shirt, the Westside students enjoyed a step show by Radford's NPHC Council members represented by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority.

Following the collegiate steppers, 18 Westside Elementary students performed a step show of their own.

For many of the students, the visit to RU was their first time on a college campus.

"This is an opportunity for them to come to Radford and see why we push for academics at our school," said Westside fifth-grade math and science teacher Marcee Amos. "We want them to see where academics can take them and see what college life is like."

Westside Principal Tami Amos said the visit to Radford is important for the fifth graders because it gets them thinking about college at an early age.

"I hope this will really inspire them to go to college," the principal said. "That is our goal, and it's our goal to start them at an early age. Because we know the more exposure they get, the better their chances of going to college."

Townsend has a college already picked out for the young learners. "I want them to come to Radford," she said. "But overall, I want them to make informed decisions that will benefit them when they get older."

The visit may have won over Banks, who said she would like to attend RU. "It looks like a lot of fun here," she said.

Apr 8, 2015