Jelani Moore is 13 years old but can already say he has studied at Yale University.
Jelani, an eighth-grader at Dubose Middle School, participated in a three-week academic summer camp at the Ivy League university, located in New Haven, Conn. He returned from the camp Aug. 9.
Jelani’s mom, Karimah, discovered the program, called the Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG), online and thought it would be a good way to keep him busy for a few weeks in the summer.
Jelani had to apply. Students are accepted based on test scores, participation in a gifted and talented program, academic talent search and letters of recommendation.
“This was his first time being away from home without a family member,” she said, adding his departure was hard on everyone including his father and younger brother. “After a couple of days Jelani was pretty much over it; he was really into his schedule and the things he needed to do, so I was impressed with that.”
Jelani would get up at 7:30 a.m. and had four classes to attend: business math, dance, fencing and acting, all done by early evening. Campers were given time to do assignments and work on projects and engage in downtime activities.
“It was very fun,” Jelani said. “The classes were harder because I did not take Algebra I in school and I had a business math class, but the teacher helped me catch up with algebra.”
He said his favorite class at Yale was math but he also liked his acting class teacher, who is an opera singer and performs on Broadway.
At Dubose, Jelani said he enjoys studying math and science. When he grows up he wants to be either a lawyer, a doctor or a performer – like an actor, dancer or musician.
“Or play sports, because I like to run track,” he said.
Jelani described some of the buildings on Yale’s campus as resembling “old castles.” He said the dormitories on campus are called colleges, and he stayed in Berkeley College, in a suite that consisted of four bedrooms.
Outside of class Jelani enjoyed reading and playing ping pong and capture the flag. On Saturdays the students went on field trips to the Mystic Aquarium and Six Flags New England, and Sunday was a free day.
“I knew it was going to be fun but other than that I didn’t really have any expectations for the camp,” he said.
Jelani said the experience improved his algebra skills and he feels more confident being on stage. He also likes knowing how to fence.
“It was a great experience and I’m definitely going to go next year,” he said.
Karimah Moore said she is really proud of her son.
“I’m proud that he went there, it was his first time away from home and he did really well,” she said, adding that he made a lot of friends and his instructors told her Jelani was encouraging with the other students.
“He encouraged his younger brother, too, and he is all set now for the Summer Institute for the Gifted – he can’t wait,” she said. “It’s cool that he is encouraging his brother as well.”