(WSVN) - Let’s face it: Most kids in high school don’t really know what they want to do in the future. But a local university is giving them a chance to check out what college classes are like while they’re still in high school. 7’s Craig Stevens shows us how this program is helping teens in his special assignment report “Learn To Dream.”

Tanks, robots and drones are roaming the halls of Florida International University, and Jaalen Jones is at the controls. The 14-year-old says he’s been building things as long as he can remember.

Jaalen Jones, high school sophomore: “As a little kid playing with Legos, building houses with Legos.”

But life hasn’t always been easy.

Jaalen Jones: “Being a city kid, I’ve seen a lot of stuff. I did see somebody get killed before. Yeah, I did see that before.”

And Jaalen admits it’s tough staying out of trouble.

Jaalen Jones: “It’s hard not to get dragged into the streets.”

But Jaalen is staying off the streets and getting on the path to success through the Miami Pre-College Enrichment and Preparation Program, or PREP. The program shows teens how science, technology, engineering and math can be fun.

Dr. Ranu Jung, FIU Engineering and Computing: “They’re learning about the creativity of engineering and computer science, and they’re learning about that while they’re still in school.”

Dr. Vishal Musaramthota, FIU Engineering and Computing: “We give them the opportunity of interacting with scientists and engineers.”

This isn’t your average science class. These students are on campus working one-on-one with scientists and engineers, test driving college courses.

Dr. Norman Munroe, Director of FIU Miami Prep Camp: “They actually sit in the classroom, sit in the computer labs. They know what it feels like.”

Dr. Vishal Musaramthota: “We have students from many schools that come here and spend five to six weeks.”

For all of these teens, it’s an eye-opening experience, but for Jaalen, this isn’t just a chance to check out college. This is a chance to change his life.

Jaalen Jones: “I get to do stuff that I have never done before, like at regular school.”

And for the staff, it’s a chance to expose kids who might have never thought about college to a whole new world.

Dr. Norman Munroe: “It’s so gratifying to see someone who had no idea what engineering was all about and to see the excitement in his eyes.”

Jaalen says he is determined to continue building his dreams and hopes to be building our future one day.

Jaalen Jones: “It just pushes me harder. It’s just me.”

To learn more about the Miami PREP Program at FIU go to the link below.


FIU Miami Prep Program

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