Marietta College introduces summer program designed for women in high school

Student presenting at PioBiz

During her senior year at Parkersburg South High School, Kelli Barnette ’12 remembers the anxiety she had about heading off to college. That’s just one of the reasons she was passionate about the idea for the Women's Inspirational Summer Experience (which was renamed Welcoming Inspirational Summer Experience in 2020) at Marietta College.

“There are a lot of unknowns about the transition from high school to college life,” said Barnette, Marietta College’s Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management. “After giving it some thought and speaking with others on campus, we wanted to offer a program that targeted women in high school who are high achievers and want to get a better understanding of what it will be like to live on a college campus, while also learning what challenges they will face in the classroom.”

WISE is open to women entering their junior or senior year of high school and will take place July 9-12 on the Marietta College campus.

Maribeth Saleem-Tanner, Director of Civic Engagement, said they designed the experience for young women who are smart and creative and have potential and would really benefit from the strong support network, enrichment activities, and confidence-building opportunities offered through WISE.

“We have an incredible amount of resources at Marietta College for this program — beautiful facilities, the creativity and passion of our faculty and staff, our beautiful historic community, and amazing current students,” Saleem-Tanner said. “I have been so excited by the response I have already gotten from faculty, staff, and community members who want to be part of this program, and from current students who are really excited about mentoring and empowering young women.”

Participants will experience college life at a small, supportive campus, staying in air-conditioned residence hall rooms and working closely with faculty, staff and current college student mentors to explore majors, career choices, resources, and opportunities.

Barnette said the WISE activities are hands-on and discussion-based and include art, community service, entrepreneurship and leadership development. She also believes strongly that participants will leave camp with increased confidence, stronger communication skills, new friends and mentors, and knowledge about college life.

“Maribeth and I came up with the idea for WISE at MC after having a few conversations about how we wanted to provide an experience that would empower young women, build their confidence and show them options that they have after high school,” Barnette said. “We hope to see cohorts of WISE students go on to pursue higher education, and we would love to have some of them choose to become Pioneers.”

Saleem-Tanner added that they received three nominations for high school students within 24 hours of announcing the program.

“I hope this will become an annual event, and that WISE at MC will become known as the place to be every summer for inspiring young women from throughout the region,” she said. “WISE at MC will help young women explore their interests, from music to science to community service, and learn more about themselves and their goals. We want every young woman who participates in this program to leave here knowing she can succeed in college, and whatever else she sets her mind to do.”

The cost of this four-day residential experience, including all meals, lodging, and activities is only $100 per participant. Several full scholarships are available to help cover costs. To apply, or to nominate a student to receive an invitation to apply, simply complete the online form at