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MAC Academy introduces high school students to college life

 MAC Academy students sitting in an MU classroom while watching a lecture.
Jennifer Brown
MAC Academy students spend 10 days living and learning on campus.

Fifty incoming sophomores from Columbia Public Schools moved into their new homes in MU residence halls on Sunday. This year’s Multicultural Achievement Committee Scholars Summer Honors Academy, or MAC Academy, will last ten days.

The program is a collaboration between MU and Columbia Public Schools that began in 2002. It brings high-achieving students who are historically underrepresented in higher education to MU’s campus for an immersive experience.

According to the Columbia Public Schools’ website, the program “is designed to provide students with the necessary skills and support they need to achieve success academically, emotionally and socially.”

“It helps them to see the world bigger than themselves,” said Annelle Whitt, the MAC Program district coordinator for Columbia Public Schools.

“It helps them to understand that college is more than academics,” Whitt added in an email. “College is about understanding different people and situations. It’s about growing as individuals.”

Students will spend most of their days going to classes, but they’ll also get a taste of college life outside of coursework. They’ll live with roommates, walk through campus for classes and grab lunch at dining halls. Last year, the MAC Scholars even took a trip to Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream.

Jenn Brown is the director of access and outreach initiatives K-16 in the Office of Academic Access and Leadership Development at MU. She helps organize MAC Academy on the university’s side.

“The ability for the … university to open the doors and invite students to be here … sets the tone, not just for the students, but for the community overall, for their families, for their siblings, that the university is a place that welcomes them,” Brown said.

Teachers from Columbia Public Schools join MU graduate instructors to teach the students’ classes, which cover a wide range of subjects. Each year, several departments at the university host learning experiences for MAC Academy students. For example, this year’s program will have evening sessions on veterinary medicine and engineering.

“We are planting seeds in very real ways for hopefully future Tigers,” Brown said. “But even if they're not future Tigers, these are students who know that campus spaces are spaces that are familiar to them.”

This year’s MAC Academy will wrap up on June 21.

Abby Lee is a student at the University of Missouri studying journalism and women’s and gender studies. She has interned with mxdwn Music and The Missouri Review.