Thinking back to middle and high school, I remember talking with my friends about all the great things we were going to be when we grew up and all the awesome things that we were going to do. The saddest thing that I can remember is that with all these ambitions, there was minimal assistance available in helping us to develop a plan to realize these great dreams. Instead of lofty goals they began to seem like delusions of grandeur. No matter how dedicated a guidance counselor may be, it’s just not possible for 10 guidance counselors to devote the time needed to help over 3000 students. If I had to liken the experience to anything I would say it was a little like the Wizard of Oz. We had dreams of where we wanted to go, but there was no yellow brick road to follow.
Wouldn’t it be great, to have a path that you could follow that would not only prepare you to follow your dreams, but also help you once you got there? Imagine being able to market yourselves to colleges so that by the time you graduate you wouldn’t even need to fight for them, they are fighting for you. I was in television production, if there was a place that I could have posted projects to show off my talent, I may have been introduced to many more colleges than the few I applied to. Not to mention my best friend, who was a multi-sport athlete, could have let numerous schools know his stats and view video of some of his games, he could have gotten offers from schools he’d never heard of. Another example is my sister who was always towards the top of her class, eventually graduating second, and was involved in everything from the tennis team to the school play. We are talking about someone that while she was being recognized for one achievement during her graduation ceremony, they told her not to walk away because she was also getting the next award. She was at a small school, and although she was accepted to most of the schools she applied to, I just wondered how many did she miss out on because she didn’t know about them, or worse yet, they didn’t know about her. Was there a way that she could have used all the successes she had during high school to find that perfect college that would fight for her to be one of their students and eventually successful alumni?
Since beginning to work in the field of higher education and watching others deal with these same issues we began to ask what can we do? So looking back on what would have been helpful to us and would be helpful to those who would follow, we decided to create TIOME (Talented Tenth of Minority Education). TIOME is the yellow brick road that will help many students make it to that far off Land of Oz by providing a place that not only guides students through high school, but allows them to introduce themselves to 50 colleges instead of 5 and tools that will help them stand out from the crowd. TIOME is about the totality of student success, introducing students to their possibilities, providing access to resources to guide them through their initial educational journey that help prepare them to continue to strive towards their goals, and remind them that there is nothing they cannot succeed in doing. Whether they want to be a doctor, engineer, writer, or electrician, our goal is to not only allow exceptional motivated students the opportunity to have schools fight for them, but to make it to Oz and become the wizard themselves!