Friday, September 4, 2009

ASCENT mentor program receives Harrah’s scholarship grant

June marked the inaugural graduating class of the All Students College Educated in Nevada Today (ASCENT) mentor program at Hug High School. This year, with the generous investment of time from volunteer mentors throughout the community and the University of Nevada, Reno, the number of Hug graduates continuing on to postsecondary education nearly tripled.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed. On Wednesday, Aug. 12, Harrah’s Foundation presented an $80,000 scholarship grant to Hug High School. Hug High graduates may qualify for up to $20,000 in educational assistance over a four year period. The Hug High School Scholarship Committee will make all scholarship decisions based on requirements set by the Foundation.

“We are thrilled to see the efforts of our dedicated mentors and our enthusiastic students pay off,” said Fabienne McPhail Naples, associate vice president of the University’s Student Success Services. “Students are seeing what hard work and commitment in school can do.”

Harrah’s Reno and Hug High have a long, successful history. The partnership was the first of its kind in Nevada when the idea was launched as the “Adopt-A-School” program. Over the decades it served as a model for other business-education partnerships, which led to the creation of the Washoe County School District’s Partners in Education program. ASCENT began at Hug as an extended partnership with the University and Washoe County School District in 2007.

ASCENT needs more volunteer mentors for the coming school year. Mentors will commit up to three hours a month with their high school mentee, discussing college aspirations and offering guidance on college applications, financial goals, and scholarship and career opportunities. Many of the students will be the first in their families to attend a university.

Those interested are encouraged to complete an application online at by Aug. 28.

“Hug mentees are becoming more involved with school and community activities, with some even creating an all-girls service group called the ‘Dream Girls,’” McPhail Naples said. “The benefits of mentoring students are boundless.”

A mentor training workshop is planned on Nevada’s campus in early September and will provide volunteers with support and resources needed to be great mentors. New applicants will be matched with Hug High sophomores later in September, following the training workshop. Activities throughout the academic school year include an application and FAFSA workshop, a college shadowing day, a holiday party, a student panel, mentor/mentee meetings and an end-of-year celebration.

For more information about the ASCENT program, visit or contact Ellen Houston, counselor coordinator at the Center for Student Cultural Diversity, at or 775-784-4936.

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