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Posted February 17, 2014

Fox alumnus partners with Temple Harrisburg for college-prep program

Courtesy of the Milton Hershey School
Pete Gurt, FOX ’89, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Milton Hershey School, has partnered with Temple University Harrisburg on the College and Career Transition program.

Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a summit of more than 100 college and university presidents to discuss how acess to higher education could be expanded for more low-income students.

Pete Gurt, FOX ’89, has been working to make that happen for years. As senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Milton Hershey School (MHS)—a school in Hershey, Pa., for children from low-income families—he has worked with several colleges and universities to ensure that higher education is a reality for his students. Now, Gurt has partnered with Temple University Harrisburg on the College and Career Transition program, which will offer a full semester of college classes to seniors at MHS.

“About 75 percent of our kids are at or below the poverty level,” Gurt explained. “These are kids for whom college might have been out of sight without this kind of support.”

Through the partnership, eligible seniors will finish their high school courses in the fall 2014 semester. In the spring, they will begin a full, 15-credit course load, which includes subjects such as math, English, U.S. society and psychology. Those classes will be taught by Temple faculty at the MHS campus and are designed to fulfill a college or university’s general-education requirements. Additionally, at the end of the semester, students will have the opportunity to intern at Hershey Resorts.

“The idea is for them to test what they’ve learned in the classroom in a real-world business environment,” Gurt said. “Our hope is that they graduate high school not only ready for college academically, but also with a sense of a career focus, a targeted plan.”

Participants will be chosen based on myriad factors including fulfillment of their graduation requirements from MHS; the ability to handle a rigorous course load; and a demonstrated interest in going to a large, urban institution, like Temple.

Link Martin, director of Temple University Harrisburg, said this program gives students from MHS a significant advantage. “These students get the same level of classes they would on Main Campus or at Harrisburg, not a watered-down version,” he said. “It’s a springboard into college, and our hope is that that boost will help them graduate on time.” He adds that Temple Harrisburg plans to conduct research on the participants’ success in college, with the ultimate goal of implementing similar programs in other local school districts.

Gurt grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and also attended MHS. He said he chose to work with Temple on this project based on his experiences there.

“The support I got from Temple’s faculty was incredibly helpful,” he said. “They understood that I wasn’t a typical college student and provided me with guidance and believed I could thrive there. It gave me a level of confidence I never had before.

“If I had not gone to MHS or Temple, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity for success,” he added. “This program will help continue [Temple founder] Russell Conwell’s legacy of keeping education accessible to all.”

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