Summer Bridge Can Change Your Life

Person working on a laptop outdoors.
Rebecca A. Eckland

Denisse Merino, who just received her associate degree in Social Work from TMCC, began her college career in the Summer Bridge program two years ago. Summer Bridge is a month-long program that introduces first-generation high school graduates to the college experience by offering math classes, Success Workshops, tutoring, and academic support… for free. The experience, she said, was definitely worth it.  “The program helped me to see what college was going to be like,” said Merino.
“I’m a first-generation student, so my parents have no idea about the kinds of challenges I was facing with time management, studying difficult subjects and all the other obstacles that college presents,” she said. She cites working with her success coach, Jenn Zarco, College Recruitment Coordinator, as one reason that she was able to succeed.  The extra support was something that Merino, like a lot of first-generation students, needed.
“I was not expecting [college] to be as difficult [as it was,]” said Merino, who admits that the math classes she took in high school were not very challenging. “In high school, I was really good at math. But, [in the Summer Bridge program] I was definitely more difficult than I thought it would be. We had tutors—they helped so much, that’s how I was able to pass the class.”
Merino decided to participate in the Summer Bridge program because she wanted to graduate from her college early. “I wanted to take as many classes as I could handle to speed up the process,” she said.  And while the program did help her to get through her initial year in college more quickly, life offered Merino another surprise. “I would have graduated early, but along came my daughter,” said the recent graduate who will begin her studies at UNR next month.

Summer Bridge 101

While Summer Bridge (which is typically held on TMCC’s Dandini Campus) will be held online this year, it will still offer students meaningful instruction, academic support, and a scholarship that can help them during their first academic year at TMCC. The classes will be held using real-time instruction—so lectures and classes will be delivered live, and not pre-recorded—from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. on July 1–August 6.  In addition to the live class sessions, there will be plenty of opportunities for students to interact with faculty, tutors, and support staff through one-on-one online tutoring sessions and meetings.
“Instructors will be offering live lectures, and tutors will run supplemental instruction sessions, Recruitment and Access Center Peer Recruiters will offer lunchtime activities. On Wednesdays, students can join our Counseling Department for Wellness Wednesdays,” said Zarco. “Additionally, Success Coaches will hold small group sessions. This will create a social atmosphere that will help students to get to know one another.” 
The Daily Schedule for this year’s Summer Bridge program will be: 

  • 9–11 a.m.: Math Courses (Math 126, 96, 95 and SKC 80)
  • 11 a.m.–Noon: Supplemental Instruction
  • Noon–1 p.m.: Break/Lunch
  • 1–3 p.m.: EPY 101 (or Success Workshops for students taking SKC 80)
  • 3–5 p.m.: Optional Tutoring and Virtual Office Hours with Success Coaches

In addition to a month of quality programming, Summer Bridge students leave the program with college credit and an $800 scholarship for their first year in college ($400 is disbursed in the fall semester, and the remaining $400 can be used in the spring.) “This program provides students with a huge opportunity to get a head start on their college career. And, it’s free—you don’t have to pay for anything. You get to attend two free college classes, while ‘testing out the waters’ to see if college is right for you,” said Merino. “I would definitely recommend the program to students who qualify to participate.” 

Zarco said that participants will receive textbooks, supplies, and technology in order to complete the online format this year.

Working Toward Her Dreams

Merino, who received this year’s TMCC Student Employee of the Year Award, is working toward her dream of becoming a high school counselor. She will start her first classes in the Human Development and Family Studies program at UNR in June and aims to complete the bachelor’s degree in two years.

She said that the lessons she learned in the Summer Bridge program definitely still apply. “I learned about time management. In the math class I took during the Summer Bridge program, I had a lot of work to do, but not a lot of time to complete it. It was a matter of being able to manage your time... you have to organize tasks into what you can do now, and what you can do later.”

She also learned the value of asking for help. “That was really a struggle for me in high school, but [in the Summer Bridge program] I realized that if I asked for help, I’d get the help I needed.” Finally, she said that the Summer Bridge program enabled her to form a supportive network with other TMCC students, faculty, and staff.  “You just get so much support from this program,” she said. 

For more information on program admissions, contact TMCC’s Recruitment and Access Center at 775-673-8236.