West Prep Academy is only 10 miles from the UNLV campus, but for many students the distance seems worlds away -- so far away that the possibility of attending college doesn't even enter their minds.
The FBI Las Vegas Citizens Academy Alumni Association wanted to change that.
The group hosts a citizenship program for youth with the goal of promoting law enforcement through education and community outreach. They wanted to inspire the kids at West Prep, a school with a high at-risk population, to do well in school now and attain a college education in the future. What better way to do that than sponsor a field trip to a real college, thought the association's president, Tim Wong.
As a longtime UNLV donor, Wong was already familiar with the campus, and he reached out the UNLV Foundation and the admissions office for help.
Kelsey Morozow, a UNLV admissions counselor, oversees the campus tours program. She recruits student guides and trains them to share facts and historical trivia about campus facilities. For the West Prep tour, the guides adapted their usual presentation for prospective college students to the more youthful audience.
"A lot of local (residents) haven't really been on campus beyond the Thomas & Mack," Morozow said. "They're often surprised at how big and clean the campus is, and how we have our own little vibe compared to the rest of the city."
For community groups, the guides point out public resources such as the Lied Library, Xeric Garden, and arts facilities. Alumni especially enjoy seeing how classrooms and the Student Union have changed over the years.
The West Prep fifth-graders were excited about the residence hall life and the chance to eat the endless desserts in the dining commons, Wong said. But the letters he received afterwards confirmed that the tour reinforced his message.
Donnea Mayfield wrote, "The field trip to UNLV changed me. It made me feel that I needed to work hard to try my best so that I can get into a good college. I also thought that maybe I could see if my family members would like to come to UNLV and see how nice it is."
Jayla Alexis added, "Before this trip I didn't want to really go to college. I thought that I can make a living on having a part-time job at Walmart or something. Now I want to go to an actual college."
About Campus Tours
UNLV campus tours are free and offered most Mondays through Saturdays. Standard walking tour takes about 90 minutes, but shorter, customized versions are also available by advanced arrangement.
To book a tour, visit the Campus Visits website or call 702-774-8658.