BY RAYNARD JACKSON, NNPA COLUMNIST
(BRADENTON, FL State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) recognized 23 students who completed the 2016 Summer Bridge Program at a special ceremony August 4. The program gives students in the College Reach Out Program (Crop) a jump start on their college education by allowing them to take two required classes over the summer and a seminar that helps them prepare for the Fall semester.
The Summer Bridge Program is led by SCF Special Programs Director Kristen L. Anderson and Jessica Torsell, SCF Special Programs retention specialist. Students received college scholarships covering tuition, books, school supplies and lunches, and completed up to six college credits by taking courses including Student Life Skills, Psychology and Reading.
At the ceremony, Anderson commended the students for their success. She reminded them that “the cool kids sit at the front of the class in college.”
Recognized at the celebration for their roles helping to make the Summer Bridge Program a success were Adjunct Instructor Kelli Douglas and Academic Student Success Advisor Monique Harrison. Dr. Donald Bowman, students ombudsman and Gary Russell, vice president of academic affairs, also attended the ceremony, which was held in the Family Heritage House on SCF’s Bradenton campus.
With two years of classes now complete, Sofia Paschero, a 2014 graduate of the Summer Bridge Program and current SCF student, offered advice to this year’s class.
Paschero, who plans to pursue a career in teaching, reminded the students to build a little down time in their schedules. Between working and going to school, she told the students, you have to “take time to smell the flowers.”
She also reminded them that their professors and advisors are all resources. “Build relationships with them, go to them when you have questions,” she said.
All of the students who completed the program are planning to attend college this fall, with 22 enrolling at SCF. About one month into the Fall semester, advisors will check in with the students who have graduated from the program just to see how they are doing.
On Aug. 4, most of the students were feeling good about the coming semester.
Shawenda Alexis, a Braden River High School graduate, said she got a lot of “tools and resources” from the CROP program as a high school student. But she said she also has gained confidence in the Summer Bridge Program and she will start the Fall semester with a 4.0 grade point average after acing her two summer classes.
Sherrod Lee, who joined the CROP program in the 11th grade after seeing his younger sister benefit from the program, said the Summer Bridge Program has helped him explore opportunities, get ahead and understand college life. He also has a 4.0 grade point average going into the Fall semester.