Utica College and the Utica City School District have teamed up for more than 20 years now to get local high school students into college.

Eyewitness News reporter Nicole Todd has the story tonight on the education group.

Young scholars past and present celebrated the rebranding of the 20 plus year program of assisting local students kick start their careers to make their dreams a reality.

Every year young scholars works with around 350 local students 7th through 12th grade. Scholars are offered help to grow their dreams.  Celebrating 23 years this year, past and present scholars were here to share their stories.

“And we have current students and alumni being speakers tonight.  So it’s actually making sure that the community knows how much of a gem this is, how it gives back to the community because it’s the future of Utica all these students and it’s also a fundraiser,” said Pamela Matt, Young Scholars Director.

Students set up posters to talk to about how the program is helping them reach these goals they never thought possible.

“It was actually so good to actually think that I could be in program as good as this.  To be in a program that helps me better myself as a learner and as a person and eventually this program will help me become really successful in life.” Jorge Hernandez, 8th grader at Donovan Middle School.

“For example, SAT Prep, I don’t think without the young scholars program I would have known too much about my SAT’s and how important they were in the college process.  And they took me on a lot of college visits for example every college that they took me to visit, I applied to and a few of the schools that they took me on a visit to, I got accepted to,” said Javon Cubbage a senior at Proctor High School.

Alumni of the program were there to share their stories to show the program is working and to give current students some insight.

“If you have an opportunity as a student to be a part of a program like this, we should adopt a spirit of gratitude and be eternally grateful, students a part of this program gets to be a part of something special.  Take advantage of it and maximize it,” said Doneilous King, Young Scholar grad, 2000.

Utica City School District teachers nominate students in sixth grade.  Of those selected, they stay in the program through high school graduation.