Summer Bridge Program Helps Prepare Students for Life at Saint Mary's
For the 39 High Potential students who participated in the Summer Bridge program this year, it was a challenging and revealing experience.
"It's been helpful. They've helped me realize my potential," said Cindy Garcia of San Francisco. She was thrilled with the feedback she received that she is a strong writer, and she appreciated the time management tips. It gives you things you can really take advantage of when class starts, like how to balance social time and study time," she said.
The students spent two weeks in the intensive college preparedness program, from July 29 to August 12, sampling classes in academic subjects like English and Seminar and gaining skills in Computer Lab. And they did a lot of homework assignments. "It's been intense," said one student. "I've gotten maybe four or five hours of sleep a night because I've been staying up writing papers."
The High Potential students also met frequently with one of 16 peer mentors -- students from upper classes who give them one-on-one attention and advice. Thanks to a $5,000 grant from U.S. Bank, this year's high potential students will benefit from ongoing meetings and workshops with some of the peer mentors throughout the year.
Somel Jammu, a sophomore who is a first-time mentor this year, said the mentoring relationship is very important. "I can offer a more whole sense of what college life is like," she said.
Javier Hansen, another of the mentors, added: "Because most of us are first-generation (college students), we can help prepare the new students."
The Summer Bridge program wasn't all work, though. The incoming students also explored the campus during a scavenger hunt and had a welcome chance to unwind during a weekend camping trip and a day of river rafting.
One of the most important classes the students took during the Summer Bridge program was the Personal and Academic Development class, which prepares them for the realities of college life.
In one class, led by Corliss Watkins, the students were divided into three groups and asked to choose their top 10 values by consensus. The winners were: love, faith and respect. One of the students said the exercise was very useful because at college, "you have to start to reinvent yourself," and knowing your values and priorities is an essential part of that process.
Michael Esquival of Winters, who plans to major in political science, had some doubts coming into the Summer Bridge program.
"At first I wasn't very interested. I thought I had better things to do this summer," he said. "After I got past the threshold of all the hard stuff, I realized a lot of good had come from it. It's good for your morale, and having a good morale is important in college."
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View more photos of the Summer Bridge participants on Facebook.