POSTED: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 4:15pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 4:41pm
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Think about all you could do with $300,000. AT&T decided to use it to change student's lives.
"I feel like I can do anything," says Istrouma High School freshman De’mathis Charbonnet.
Charbonnet is one of them. He and more than 40 other students are taking part in the Louisiana State Youth Opportunities Unlimited Program or LSYOU. The program, which is now more than a quarter of million dollars richer, gives kids who might otherwise drop out the support they need to succeed.
"The opportunity in life to open our eyes and see that there's a lot of opportunities in life for us to achieve,” says Charbonnet.
The first step in that process was getting to live on LSU’s campus for five weeks over the summer. The students took classes, went on field trips and got the real college experience. And while it was tough at the beginning…
"It was the first time being away from my parents. So, it was really difficult," says Kili Julian.
By the time it ended, she had made so many friends she didn't want to leave.
"The last day it was really sad leaving everybody, my best friends,everybody that i got close to actually," says Julian.
And it changed the students' lives forever.
"Before I went to LSYOU I used to hang around different people. I used to try to be someone that I wasn't. And now that I went there I've had peer counselors and people realize who I should be,” says Derrick Dunn.
And it's a change LSYOU coordinator Luereaner Mack has seen firsthand.
"Some of them didn't think college was possible, but LSYOU provides that experience and that exposure. So that's life-changing. Then they can see that they can actually do it," says Mack.