Success First Summer Bridge Students Celebrated

Alli Williams
Photo of student at podium

Raquel Ann Moultrie, Summer Bridge student, speaks at the 2018 Success First Summer Bridge Completion Ceremony.

“I was never really set up to be successful from the start,” said Raquel Ann Moultrie, a 2018 Success First Summer Bridge student, as she gave her speech at the 2018 Success First Summer Bridge Completion Ceremony.

Moultrie, like each student in the Success First Summer Bridge Program, is a first-generation college student. In her speech on Thursday, Aug. 2, she shared a glimpse into her childhood, which was filled with difficulties. Both of her parents were imprisoned by the time she was 13-years-old and she was abused, abandoned and forgotten by her biological mother. Moultrie overcame these obstacles, and through her hard work and dedication to school, completed high school with an unweighted 3.8 GPA and an honors diploma. She became a Success First student to accelerate her studies and start her higher education off on the right foot.

“My past is not a setback; it’s motivation for me to keep going and work as hard as I possibly can,” said Moultrie.

Success First Summer Bridge is a six-week summer course load where high school graduates take their first few college classes and prepare for the coming Fall Semester as freshmen at Truckee Meadows Community College. The students complete the program with college credits, cost-free, and an $800 grant or scholarship going in to their first year of college.

The program, which will be heading into its tenth year, is open to all high school graduating seniors who will be first-generation college students. Most participants have demonstrated financial need. There were about 140 students enrolled in the 2018 Success First Summer Bridge program this summer.

Applications to be admitted as a Success First Summer Bridge student for the 2019 Summer Semester open on Thursday, November 1, 2018.

Jennifer Zarco, Success First Program Coordinator, is a strong believer in the importance of the first-generation, low-income population of new college students having a support system like Success First in order to thrive. She was once in their shoes as a first-generation college student, so she knows firsthand the challenges these students face and the need for Success First.

“This population is vulnerable to not knowing how to navigate the college process, or how to navigate college in general,” Zarco said. “It’s very critical that these students get this kind of exposure before they come to college so that they feel welcome at TMCC. The students start out with all the resources that they need, they know the campus, they’ve been enrolled in college courses, and they already know they can do it. It helps them succeed once they begin the Fall Semester.”

In attendance at the Success First Summer Bridge Completion Ceremony were representatives from Success First donor groups including Wells Fargo, AAUW (American Association of University Women), Susanne and Gloria Young Foundation and U.S. Bank. Also in attendance was Nevada System of Higher Education Regent Carol Del Carlo and Regent Allison Stephens.

Other donors who support the Success First program include: NV Energy Foundation, GEAR UP, the Nell J. Redfield Foundation, the Bretzlaff Foundation and TMCC employee donors. Nevada INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence), another major donor, has had a long-term partnership with TMCC. The Success First Summer Bridge Program highlights and provides STEM activities and courses because of their support.

Kerry Durmick, from the office of U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, and Nathan Mackinnon, Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges, presented as part of the ceremony.

Mackinnon was this year’s keynote speaker at the ceremony. After discussing his own educational journey, which was met with many hurdles along the way, he congratulated the students and encouraged them to continue on their educational paths. To Mackinnon, Success First Summer Bridge is essential to helping students continue their education after they reach high school graduation.

“One of the challenges students face is the gap between high school and college, and understanding what’s expected of them as they go into college. It’s a transition to adulthood,” said Mackinnon. “The nice thing about a program like Success First is that it helps students by pairing them with the skills needed and gets them ready for what’s going to be expected of them come Fall Semester.”

The Summer Bridge program is rigorous and can be challenging for the students, but with hard work comes great reward. In the end, the students can leave Summer Bridge with a sense of pride in their summertime accomplishment and eagerness to continue in to the Fall Semester.

“This program will forever be the foundation for my future success,” said Sabrina Velazquez, another 2018 Success First Summer Bridge student.

The ceremony concluded and special guests in attendance were asked to open a card on their chair, a handwritten note from a 2018 Summer Bridge student. The notes were a token of each students’ gratitude toward those who helped them reach this important milestone, and their promise to work toward their educational goals in the future.

For more information about Success First Summer Bridge, please contact TMCC's Access, Outreach and Recruitment Office.