Summer Bridge program preps scholars for return this fall
The Summer Bridge Scholars program, established three years ago to increase student retention, is familiarizing 21 students with UMKC and easing their transition into college.
In its third year, the program funds room and board costs for up to 36 incoming freshman to live on campus, explore UMKC and the city and take English and math courses for college credit. Qualifying students come from all walks of life, are usually first-generation students, and have demonstrated their work ethic and perseverance.
Some students have the ability to succeed at the college level, but it is our mission to take an active interest in the success of our students and provide them with that extra attention needed to aid in their transition from high school to college, explained LaShaundra Randolph, program coordinator.
“Summer Bridge is the beginning of their college experience here at UMKC, and we plan to make a lasting impression in all of their lives that goes beyond the six weeks,” Randolph said.
The information students provide in their applications is used to match scholars to mentors – staff and faculty who volunteer their time to advise and guide the scholars. Throughout the duration of the program, mentors check-in with students, occasionally go out to breakfast with them and, in the case of Brittany Butts and her mentor, Sandra DuPree, even help them find jobs on campus.
“Sandra introduced me to a whole different side of UMKC,” Butts said. “She does campus tours, she goes for recruitment at high schools and she also got me a job within the Welcome Center.”
The scholars’ mornings are early, their evenings late. In and out of resource sessions, reading three texts for their English class, and swimming after dinner, this year’s Summer Bridge scholars wonder where the time has gone.
“When I left high school, I thought there was a limit to what I could do, but being here, I realized that that limit was just the bare minimum of what I actually could do,” scholar Andy Leon said. “If you had told me that I could read three books in under six weeks, I would have told you that you were crazy.”
Numerous sessions are dedicated to the resources offered for students, and various departments participate in enriching the students’ experiences. One day, its ‘laughing yoga’ with the Counseling Center, the next, a performance by UMKC’s various Greek organizations. Each Friday, an excursion to tour Kansas City was organized for the students, familiarizing them with leisure activities around the city as well as their UPass to the city’s bus system.
“In the future, if I’m struggling, I know who to talk to,” scholar Shivani Gheewala said. “I also learned to just be comfortable. If you struggle, it’s okay to struggle because everybody else struggles.”
In addition to their mentors, a Supplemental Instruction leader for both English and math was available to help scholars finish assignments. Even the resident assistants helped with programming for the scholars.
“This is a six-week program and it’s rigorous, so to keep students motivated, a lot of different departments have to contribute,” Randolph said. “That’s where I think UMKC thrives.”
Meet three of the Scholars
Brittany Butts, St. Louis, Mo. Major: Pre Health Sciences. Mentor: Sandra DuPree, Admissions. Favorite Activity: Exploring Kansas City
“Enjoy your college life. It goes by so fast. These six weeks have gone by so fast, it’s ridiculous, so enjoy it.”
Shivani Gheewala, Carthage, Mo. Major: Pre-Pharmacy. Mentor: Jessica Elam, Supplemental Instruction. Favorite Activity: Walking around the Plaza and the campus
“[Elam and I] had Yogurtini one day and we talked about my struggles and what I’ve been through and what I hope to accomplish at UMKC and she really gave me guidance to what I should do.
Andy Leon, Kansas City, Mo. Major: Biology. Mentor: Kevin Sansberry, Human Resources. Favorite Activity: Working out
“I picked UMKC because everything about it screams my name – the logo, the colors, the campus, the location, what I’ve read about its professors. Honestly, I didn’t see myself anywhere else.”