Rising juniors in the Wyman Leaders program, a St. Louis, Missouri, based leadership development opportunity for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, visited Belmont University’s Watkins College of Art on Thursday, June 8. Students begin the program the summer after their 8th grade year and receive support, coaching and enrichment experiences for the duration of the nine-year program.
As a part of this program, Wyman Leaders offers postsecondary education tours to give students the chance to explore a variety of college environments. Many students on the visit to Belmont had a particular interest in pursuing degrees in the arts, prompting the group to spend much of their time at Belmont’s Watkins College of Art.
They explored the Leu Center for the Visual Arts, a 40,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility complete with gallery spaces, multimedia presentation rooms, a dark room and studios for painting, ceramics, printmaking and more.
The students exuded excitement and energy as they dreamt and planned for their futures. Students China and Phoenix are both leaning towards a potential Illustration major, with China looking to create her own comic book series and Phoenix considering a route in the education sphere.
Kiera, a Missouri native, has been passionate about design since they were six years old. While they always imagined going to college in their home state, the appeal of a booming job market and a dazzling creative scene is drawing them to consider Music City—which was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the hottest job markets of 2022.
Wyman’s Associate Director of Communications Kate Neff noted that the Wyman Leaders program has visited Nashville on previous college tours, and they always enjoy exploring the diverse, affordable city and the variety of schools in the area.
Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, excitement is high as Wyman looks toward its next season. “We are most proud of how Wyman has continually evolved as the world and needs of young people have changed, while always remaining committed to the teens we serve,” said Neff. “We’ve grown from a local camp in St. Louis to a nationally known organization that is part of the lives of more than 30,000 young people every year.”
Beyond postsecondary education tours, Wyman Leaders also provides immersive camp experiences, enrichment activities and individualized coaching for the more than 400 students involved each year. Students in the program have a 100 percent on-time graduation rate, and many individuals also come back to mentor younger students.