September 2020

Introducing PPHS students to the world of higher education

By Matt Schnepf 

When rising seniors from Purdue Polytechnic High School attended a recent summer program at Purdue University, mentors like Macy Duncan provided a glimpse into the college experience.

“A personal connection like that can make a profound difference,” says Duncan, a junior social studies education major from Carmel, Indiana. “These students are so talented and driven. It was important to show them they are capable of higher education and belong in it.” 

Duncan chose to attend Purdue herself due to its academic strengths. “I got into the classroom much more quickly than I would have somewhere else as an education major,” she says. “I was looking forward to that kind of field experience.”

College of Education faculty members also have enhanced Duncan’s vocational preparation. “Our dean, Nancy Marchand-Martella, is always open for feedback, as is the research staff I’ve worked with, including Professor Youli Mantzicopoulos-James,” she says.    

Last spring, Duncan completed a course through her learning science minor that was taught by John Gipson. As director of the monthlong program for PPHS students, Gipson approached Duncan about serving as a summer mentor. 

“Professor Gipson and I connected over education and my passion for working with high school students,” Duncan says. “It seemed like a good fit for me to get involved with the PPHS students as well as the summer program.” 

Mentors spent considerable time with the rising seniors, from guiding them around campus to attending afternoon and weekend activities, including a movie night and a run through the University’s Engineering Fountain. Participants also completed a four-week, three-credit college course.

“It was a lot about bonding with the students and showing them what Purdue is all about,” Duncan says. “They are still learning a lot about the University.”

Active on campus, Duncan has participated in a residential hall club and is a member of Phi Beta Chi sorority. She also serves as a College of Education ambassador and secretary of the Feminist Action Coalition for Today.

The aspiring educator enjoys economics, history and especially government. “I would like to teach high school for a while and then get into administrative work, either as a principal or high school administrator,” Duncan says. “That includes pursuing a master’s degree at some point.”


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