Tobias Hagins, a PC student from Baxley, Ga. and CHAMPS mentor, plays a card game with CHAMPS students on the PC campus.  

How do economically disadvantaged students begin to believe they can go to college? The Presbyterian College CHAMPS program plays a role.

What is CHAMPS? The acronym stands for Communities Helping, Assisting, Motivating Promising Students. During the six-year program, students are taught and mentored by teachers, PC students and alumni, and volunteers.

The goal of the program is to get the students to believe that, yes, they can go to college.

Students are selected to begin the program during their seventh- and eighth-grade years. It’s only fitting then that, when they’re new to the program, they get a taste of college by spending a few weeks on a college campus.

Sixty seventh- and eighth-grade students are on the Presbyterian College campus now.

The first session, for grades 7-8, is June 17-19 and 21. The latter, for grades 9-10, is June 24-26 and 28.

Next up are two sessions of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and other classes, as well as a variety of related activities.

The CHAMPS program began at PC in 1995, and since 1995, when the first class reached college age, 90 percent of its participants have enrolled in colleges and universities.

Among the instructors and moderators are Michael Mack (Clinton High School) and Isaac Cooper (Clinton Middle School), Boys Council; Laura Cook (Gray Court-Owings) and Tammy Evans (Hickory Tavern), Girls Circle; Erica Cummins (CHS), Martie Hiott and Chelsea Bradshaw (Laurens Middle), Storytelling; Mindy Webb (S.C. Virtual Charter School) and Mariel Fridy (Laurens Middle); Stephanie Barksdale (Greenville County) and Tobias Hagins, Game Making; and Lori McIntyre and Michael Lyda (Hickory Tavern), Art Devotions.