Students completing the 2016 Success First Summer Bridge Program say they have made friends, actively engaged with interesting activities and established a place for themselves in a college environment.
“I’ve learned about all the different and diverse resources here for the students, and working on campus has shown me the willingness of the staff and how much everyone here just wants you to succeed,” said Jason Pinto Maldonado, Peer Recruiter and 2015 Success First participant at Truckee Meadows Community College.
Success First classes are held 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. four days a week for six weeks in the summer at TMCC, and the program includes two free college courses, textbooks, tutoring, bus passes and lunch.
Maldonado shares his experiences with this summer’s Success First participants, newly graduated high school seniors.
“Being fresh out of high school, in the class of 2015, I feel like I can be a good spokesman for the College and let students know that I was right where they were not too long ago,” he said.
This year's Success First Summer Bridge closing celebration takes place on TMCC's Dandini Campus. The event is free and open to family and friends of students, and residents of the Reno-Sparks community.
- When: Thursday, Aug. 4, 1-2 p.m.
- Where: Sierra Building, room 108
To qualify for the Success First program, first-time college students must meet minimum math and English placement scores, agree to complete the six-week Success First Summer Bridge program and commit to meet—at least twice a semester during their first year of college—with a Success Coach to track academic progress. About 80 students are accepted each summer.
“Being in the program was awesome, I made a lot of new friends as well as it helped me adjust to the campus and college lifestyle before the Fall Semester had even started,” Maldonado said. “I was even nominated to make a speech at the closing ceremony, which was an honor. The help from the tutors was tremendous and learning more about the Tutoring and Learning Center was a huge help my freshman year.”
Students say friends made while in the program are important to their academic success.
“What I like best is how close we’ve gotten to know our classmates,” said Madison, 2016 Success First participant. “We ask each other questions and study together at lunch.”
One of her classmates, Kelton, agrees and also finds the activities fun and interesting.
“I like the creativity of the projects in EPY class, such as ‘Music That Motivates,’” he said. “You had to present a song that motivates you and tell how you feel from listening. You shared how the song helps accomplish goals or do homework or get through challenging academics.”
Maldonado was inspired as a participant in last year’s program to become a Peer Recruiter this summer.
“We help facilitate lunch and speak with the students about how the program is going and get any input on their end,” he said. “We Peer Recruiters make ourselves available throughout our shift to help with tasks as they come up, anywhere from the teachers needing help with something or supplies, or if the tutors have any special requests.”
College Credit and New Campus Environment
In Summer Bridge, students take two courses for college credit—a Math course and an EPY, Educational, Career and Personal Development class. The math section is either Intermediate Algebra: MATH 96 or Precalculus: MATH 126, based on where a student scores on the ACCUPLACER® placement examination. For those who have already completed EPY, READ 135: College Reading Strategies class is offered.
Students finishing the summer program with a GPA of 2.0 or above earn an $800 award toward full-time enrollment of 12 credits or more—$400 in the Fall, and $400 in the Spring. They will also receive coaching during their first year from their TMCC staff Success Coach.
STEM Infused Into the Program
“In EPY, the students are doing career exploration and we’re introducing them to biomedical, clinical and laboratory career tracks that they might not have thought of before,” said Julie Ellsworth, PhD, Biology and Community Health Science Department Chair and Nevada INBRE Outreach Coordinator.
INBRE is the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence. The IDeA program helps researchers in states that typically receive less research dollars to be more competitive, starting research projects which lead to national grants. Nevada INBRE is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund programs promoting science career education, including under-represented students, and expanding opportunities for undergraduate research.
The INBRE grant has helped to make possible a STEM focus to 2016 Success First, Summer Bridge by funding the following:
- Math books and supplemental activities
- Additional math tutors
- Guest scientist to visit EPY classes
Meeghan Gray, PhD, Biology Professor is a behavioral ecologist who has led three science activities:
- Introductory discussion of possible graduate degrees and careers in the field of science
- Math applications in biology; measuring surface area to volume ratios in desert tortoises
- Group activity and discussion on the evolution of antibiotic resistance
Summer Program Leads to Further Opportunities
“Students completing Summer Bridge this year have the opportunity through the grant to apply for a five-week BioResearch Workshop next summer which is a hands-on lab research project in molecular biology,” Ellsworth said. “They can then come back the summer after that to be peer mentors for the research project or be matched with other researchers at UNR or the Desert Research Institute (DRI). It’s a continuing pipeline available for students interested in science.”
Many students will continue in these extra opportunities for research, she added.
Maldonado plans to complete his associate degree in business and transfer in Fall 2017 to the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“It gives me great pleasure to let students know all of what TMCC has to offer and knowing that I’m helping students with their educational journey is a great rewarding feeling on its own,” he said. “Thanks to the program and the opportunity to work here along with the faculty and staff all around me, it has made it very easy to feel like I’m an important part of the College and makes me feel like I belong here.”