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Courtesy of Brett Hoover,
Schools Building Communities

Photo Credits: Dave Fisher, Vincennes University

For four Ivy League athletes, the recovery begins.

That's because Trey Peacock, Adrian Colarusso, Jessie Rhee and Brittney Smith spent several days designing and preparing leadership curriculum for at-risk high school students from Indianapolis, followed by two intensive and exhausting weeks of implementing the program while also serving in mentorship and advisory roles for the students.

The program, X-Mester, took place from June 5-19 at Vincennes University, Indiana's oldest college and the state's leader in the early college high school model. The four Ivy Leaguers were among 13 Fellows who oversaw the 115 rising high school seniors who were experiencing college residential life for the first time.

"When I heard about the X-Mester program," said Peacock, who will be a senior wide receiver at Princeton in the fall, "I was very excited to see there was an opportunity to give back as well as expose myself to the field of teaching."

In addition to developing "Survivor X-Mester," which gave students strategies in organization and prioritization, Peacock also oversaw team sports activities, including football.

Smith, who has been both the Ivy League Rookie and Player of the Year in basketball at Dartmouth, partnered with Yale All-Ivy tennis player Jessie Rhee on a mini-module called "No 'I' in Team," designed to promote student success through teamwork and collaboration.

"I'm interested in eliminating educational inequalities and this program presented a great opportunity to directly impact the lives of high school students," said Smith. "The fellowship allowed me to interact with students and hopefully drive home the importance of higher education and the many doors it opens."

Colarusso, who will serve as the team captain for the Princeton sprint football team in the fall, designed and delivered lessons on "Ethics, Character & Responsibility" while also founding and overseeing an acappella group which delivered two performances during X-Mester. In addition to being captain of the sprint football team, Colarusso is also a member of Old NasSoul, an on-campus ensemble at Princeton.

"We took great care in selecting Fellows with great leadership skills," said X-Mester Director Patricia Melton, an NCAA Silver Anniversary awardee and seven-time Heps Champion while at Yale. "We drew on those skills to benefit our students through their teaching, experiential activities, and academic advising and college counseling."

"It was so incredible to see the transformation in these kids," said Rhee. "In the beginning there were a few speed bumps, but that just made the whole experience that much more worthwhile. I was challenged in terms of what I believed in and what I expected, and now I walk away enlightened... and even nostalgic."