Hillary Haff was the first Yankelovich Fellow. Hillary completed her project in the spring of 2004. Her project, titled "Believe, Achieve, Succeed: A Day in the Life of a College Student," involved sixth-graders from a local area elementary school and St. Bonaventure University students.
The focus of this project was to help the children recognize the tools and resources needed to become successful leaders. The goal was to instill motivation in these young people so that they will want to become leaders as they work toward a critical transition from elementary to middle school.
The children involved were from a rural area, and many were from economically disadvantaged families where they had few role models who could help them understand the value and purpose of higher education. These children need to realize that they hold the potential of going above and beyond what they’ve ever imagined.
To accomplish her goal, this spring Hillary arranged the visit of approximately seventy sixth-graders to SBU for a "day at college." The students were assigned to groups of eight to 10 with two college students leading each group. The day was designed to mimic a day in the life of a college student, addressing specific obligations and responsibilities that a typical student would face each day.
Around campus there were various organized "classes" or stations (e.g., Reilly Center Gymnasium, Plassmann Classroom, and Dormitory) run by facilitators of leadership traits, then the children participated in activities and discussions to further develop these traits. Hillary's hope is that these students left having been exposed to the true definition of a leader and a vision stressing the importance of a college education.