SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – A special connection between Syracuse University and a school on Syracuse’s Near Westside is creating hope for the future generation.
It’s called Shadow Day and its a chance for fifth-graders from Syracuse City School District’s Seymour Dual Language Academy to tour the SU campus.
“Shadow Day is a student idea that came to me 21 years ago and it is an opportunity for us to take our young people from Seymour School particularly and give them an opportunity to see themselves on a college campus,” said Bea González, vice president for community engagement at Syracuse University.
It is an opportunity she knows about all too well. Several years ago, González was a Seymour student from the Near Westside of Syracuse. Now, decades later, she’s a top administrator at Syracuse University.
“Seymour School is a special place for me,” remembers González. “That community has great need and the students at Seymour School have great need and if I can just do a little bit to create and provide opportunities for them that they deserve just because they are then I’m grateful for that.”
A sentiment shared by Ashliqua Menifee, a freshman forensic sociology major. Just eight years ago, as a fifth-grader at Seymour, she was in the same spot as the current students at Shadow Day. Now she is giving the tours to them.
“I feel like even going to Seymour and having the opportunity to come here when I was younger probably impacted me,” Menifee said.
Growing up on the Near Westside wasn’t always an easy life.
“The street is a quiet street, but right around the corner, there’s a lot of violence and stuff but I think it shapes you to want to be better, it makes you want to know better and be in a better environment especially for your family,” Menifee said.
Seeing a glimpse of a brighter future gave her permission to dream big.
“You write your own story. You place yourself with what you want to do and it’s important to know you have opportunities around you and not let barriers get in the way,” Menifee said.
A message she’s sharing with her group of students while she took them on the tour of the campus. She took them to the library and the Carrier Dome where they learned about the Dome’s many transformations throughout the year. One of the students took a special moment to even visualize a future on the field while standing in front of a bronzed statue of Ernie Davis – the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
“The goal today is to let them know they can be here if they want, if they stick to their goal they can do whatever they like,” Menifee said.