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Alumni Spotlight: WashU Up Close

In our Alumni Spotlight series, we introduce you to some of the exceptional students that have participated in our programs as they share insights and advice for future pre-college program participants.

Meet Jai-Laan Blackmon! Jai-Laan is a junior at WashU. She is currently majoring in Anthropology with a minor in African American Studies. Jai-Laan is interested in becoming a Healthcare Administrator one day so she can contribute to the healthcare field in a positive way that would allow her to give back to the same marginalized communities that she comes from. She is originally from Los Angeles which is where she calls home; however, these past two years Saint Louis has become her home away from home. In 2019, she was a part the High School Summer Scholars Program that allowed her to study on campus for an 8-week period and get accustomed to WashU life. She gained so many experiences through the Summer Scholars pre-college program that allowed her to solidify this amazing school as her choice. Some of her hobbies consist of dancing, outdoor hiking, and poetry.


What was your favorite part of the High School Summer Scholars program?

My favorite part of the High School Summer Scholars program was studying on-campus. All throughout high school, I took college level courses but it was something about taking WashU courses while living in my own dorm as a high school student. I felt so official and accomplished studying in the very setting that I had been working towards. The High School Summer Scholars program allowed me to have a sneak peak into what college looked like.

"The High School Summer Scholars program allowed me to have a sneak peak into what college looked like."

What was your biggest takeaway from your time in the program?

The program taught me the importance of networking and asking for help. Up until participating in the program, I was academically excellent on my own; however, I was taking undergraduate WashU courses in this program which required much more effort and insight than my high school could’ve prepared me for. During the High School Summer Scholars program, I took Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology which consisted of high school students from the program and currently enrolled WashU students. This type of class demographic came with a lot of pressure to not only perform at the rate of my peers but those students who were already attending WashU. Soon, I learned to see the value in studying in groups because I was able to swap my strengths and weaknesses with other students and they did the same in return. I planned study sessions with other students which kept me disciplined and inspired to improve my performance in the course.

What factors did attending the High School Summer Scholars Program play into your decision to apply and attend WashU?

The High School Summer Scholars program allowed me to see beyond the WashU brochures and official website. I was able to experience the type of community this school had to offer which is something you can only get in person. Everyone within the program pushed me to continue when at times my grades were not so reassuring and always offered to help me find the necessary resources. This was big for me because I did not want to attend a competitive school with an equally competitive community of students. This program let me know that I would be attending a university that pushed me from start to finish while never leaving my side along the way; this included both staff and students.

"The High School Summer Scholars program allowed me to see beyond the WashU brochures and official website."

What would you like potential students to know about attending our programs?

In my honest opinion, the best way to be sure about a college decision is to experience it up close. While attending this program as a sophomore in high school, I was able to see myself attending WashU for the next four years with full certainty. The program placed me in the hands of some of the most candid and adventurous program advisors who were always willing to share about their WashU experiences and individual academic pursuits. Also, this program did an amazing job of helping potential students explore Saint Louis to see if WashU is the best fit from a living standpoint. Students who have the opportunity to be a part of the High School Summer Scholars program come in with questions and leave with new academic interests, college readiness skills, and a better outlook on WashU as a whole.

Interested in the High School Summer Scholars Program?

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