Mobile Learning Lab Helps Students Achieve College Dreams

What Washington, D.C., 12th grade student Ugonna Onyeukwu looked forward to most each week was his second period class on Wednesdays. Unlike other days, when he’d quickly make his way through the busy hallways of Calvin Coolidge High School, transitioning from one advanced course to the next, Wednesday mornings represented something different for Ugonna. 

He didn’t have to worry about taking notes during a lecture or lab, completing the required reading, or preparing for an upcoming quiz, midterm or final exam. In fact, he didn’t even have to worry about what grade he would earn because there was no teacher evaluating his performance, per say. But doing well in this course carried even more weight for him than earning an “A” grade because it would determine where and if he got accepted to college.

Ugonna was one of more than 40 students in the District of Columbia to participate in the Mobile Learning Lab special class during the 2012-2013 academic year. And like all his fellow participants at Coolidge, his hard work over the course of nine months paid off. He was accepted at a four-year college, receiving notification from his dream school, Penn State. 

With the help of tutors from Howard University who came onboard the Mobile Learning Lab to assist with college applications and the bus’ workstations equipped with 4G LTE tablets, Ugonna says he “was able to overcome the challenge of putting myself in a box of 500 words.” 

“I had a lot of jumbled thoughts in my mind when it came to drafting my personal statement. This program helped me organize my thoughts and create an essay for my application that explained who I was and why I wanted to attend Penn State.”

Now in its second year of operation and having expanded to include a total of 10 schools in Boston; Baltimore; and Washington, D.C., the Mobile Learning Lab program, which is sponsored by Verizon Wireless and Samsung, is making a difference in the educational aspirations and outcomes of dozens of high school students. Acting Vice Principal Melanie Agnew and former college counselor at Coolidge says, “The Mobile Learning Lab has not only brought today’s technology to our students but brought student enthusiasm to a new level and goes to show what can be achieved through strong public and private collaboration.”

Caption: Howard University student Jamaal Powell helps Ugonna Onyeukwu brainstorm ideas for his college essay onboard the Verizon Wireless Mobile Learning Lab.