Professor launches higher learning program for local youth of color

May 26, 2009

Sociologist and professor Roxanna Harlow is leaving the college classroom determined to teach those most unlikely to succeed in higher education. “It’s a fantasy dream for me to help children develop critical thinking skills that will prepare them for higher education.”

After taking a sabbatical in 2008, Harlow decided to make her dream a reality and has founded a hands-on educational program, Higher Learning Inc., to transform the lives of young people who have little access to the social, cultural, and economic resources critical to academic and life success. And she’s chosen to launch this non-profit organization in Carroll County where students of color are falling significantly behind in achievement test scores without access to the various supports typically available in larger cities.

Harlow will supplement public school education with student opportunities to further hone habits of critical thinking that build confidence and empower underserved youth. Field trips to museums, libraries and embassies in the Baltimore-Washington area will take students to the world beyond their neighborhoods where they can witness and explore culture and experience new social interactions.

As a specialist in race and ethnic relations, Harlow is at ease with both teaching and mentoring minority students. “I’ll start with where they are: what entertains them, what amuses them, what challenges are they facing in school,” she says. “Then get them questioning those ideas and making connections between the past and the present.

Her colleagues at McDaniel are ready to help too. Professors Debora Johnson-Ross, Amy McNichols, and Jacqueline Couti will be guest instructors as will others who volunteer to discuss a particular topic.

“Connecting Today and Yesterday” is the theme of the first weekday summer program this June with sessions targeted for youth, ages 11-13 and 14-17. During the regular school year, Harlow will offer a Saturday program from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  To volunteer or assist with funding, contact Harlow at