For many high school graduates, the thought of starting college may seem stressful, overwhelming or scary. However, incoming freshmen who participated in the Summer Bridge program will enter the university as confident and ambitious college students, thanks to the resources of Student Support & Equity Programs.
“Summer Bridge is an academic boot camp that prepares students for the rigors of the university. The experience teaches them about the tools and skills that are necessary to be a successful student,” says Monique Allard, executive director of SSEP.
For five weeks this summer, 84 incoming freshmen participated in study groups, worked on research papers, experienced social life on campus, and connected with their peers and faculty in class sessions. They also plugged into the Educational Opportunity Program, an SSEP academic resource that guides students through their undergraduate careers. The experience of a college classroom and academic advising was their first taste of Cal Poly Pomona’s learn-by-doing philosophy.
“I’m a better person and a better college student” because of this program, says Karen Romero, who graduated from Garey High School in Pomona in June. “It was the best investment.”
Summer Bridge provides first-generation college students with housing, classes and activities, but financial constraints weighed heavily on this year’s program structure. The traditional five-week residential program was transformed into a three-week residential, two-week commuter program.
“We were fortunate to receive funding support this year from the Kellogg Legacy Grant, along with state funds and small donations from alumni,” notes Allard, who adds that SSEP is seeking external funding to bolster next year’s program.
Some students traveled from as far as San Diego or Sacramento, with many citing the support from the Summer Bridge staff as their source of inspiration. Student speakers at the program’s graduation ceremony frequently referred to Summer Bridge as their foundation for healthy study and time management skills, reflecting on the program as “good for meeting new people,” a “source of support,” and a “great experience.”
The theme of the ceremony’s concluding speeches reflected on student development and their new life and academic skills.
Student Evelyn Falco perfectly summed up the Summer Bridge experience for her peers and her excitement to become a Cal Poly Pomona student: “We should all be proud of ourselves. I really do feel prepared for college.”
To learn more about Summer Bridge, visit https://dsa.cpp.edu/ssep/SummerBridge.asp.