By Elizabeth Hill
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Unlike many students, Brandy Vizmanos had a sneak preview of college.
As part of the Academic Preparation for Excellence program, the history freshman got a taste of campus life while in high school.
Vizmanos frequently visited campus with her mentor. Because of this, "coming here wasn't scary because I'd come with her."
The goal of APEX is to increase the amount of minority students in higher education by providing students with college mentors, tutoring and encouragement.
The program is in its tenth year, and reaches 1,500 students in 35 southern Arizona schools.
Program Coordinator Emily Morrison said 90 percent of APEX students are accepted to college. Not only have students gone to schools in Arizona, but also to out of state schools, including Dartmouth, Harvard and Berkeley.
"In essence we help them prepare for college," Morrison said. "They don't know how to qualify for school, and which classes help them prepare."
APEX works through mentors for high school students. Mentors spend three to four hours minimum per month with students. Mentors are there to motivate, give information, be tutors and friends to the students, Morrison said.
"It is the greatest thing," Vizmanos said.
Vizmanos is an APEX alumna who first encountered the program when she was a freshman at Desert View High School. She was selected for the program based on a minimum 2.5 grade point aver
She is attending the University of Arizona on a fee waiver and book scholarship from APEX. These are offered to the outstanding APEX students who choose to attend the UA.
Pat Darakhan, a pre-medical technology junior, said, "APEX helped me realize what was available for me, that I could make it to college."
APEX also counsels at the middle school level. Vizmanos is a student coordinator at a middle school, and Darakhan found out about APEX from her eighth grade counselor.
APEX was developed to bring the minority population of the university up to par with the minority population in the community, Morrison said.
"Mentoring is only one aspect," Morrison said. APEX offers many other programs to help high school students. Workshops are offered to students in note taking, time management, and college entrance exam preparation.
Vizmanos said, "I took advantage of everything, like the leadership program, and the PSAT workshop." She said she kept her grades up with the tutoring that was available.
APEX also has a an alumni group to keep tabs on their students once they get into college. "It is to help with their transition at college," Morrison said.
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