Youths from Girls Inc. in Arlington experienced a little taste of college life this week at Jacksonville University as part of a global photo project -- and got a chance to sit behind the President's desk to boot.
PhotoVoice is designed to use participatory photography to raise communication and self-expression skills, according to its website at www.photovoice.org.
In this case, the girls, all from disadvantaged areas, were armed with disposable cameras and encouraged to "snap away" around campus April 10.
The girls spent time imagining through photos what college life might be like in a visit organized by a JU donor and staff member. Their images will be displayed in downtown locations in May during Girls Rights Week and at a JCCI 2025 survey results release event.
As part of the day at JU, the group also spent a little time in the office of JU President Tim Cost, who asked them questions about their dreams and goals and gave them tips about entering and staying in college.
"We have girls here who want to be lawyers, physicians, teachers ... you have to all work hard, and you can see all those possibilities and more when you get to college," he told them.
They peppered him with questions like "What's it like in college?" "Is this really the President's Office?" "How long do you go to college?" and "What does a President do?"
Cost answered them all, then had them sit in his chair, and one after another they beamed happily as they took photographs of each other behind his desk. They also took photos at various landmarks around campus.
"They're all from this area, and many have never been on a college campus and may not even know JU is right there near them," said Girls Inc. CEO Beth Clark. "We're so happy JU worked on this with us. This really gives them a voice and lets them imagine what they can be when they grow up."
The PhotoVoice Exhibit will first be displayed at the Girls Inc. Girls' Rights Week Reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. May 16 at the Haskell Building at 111 Riverside Ave. It will then be shown from 9 to 11 a.m. May 18 at the JCCI 2025 Vision Release Event at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.