Summer bridge program empowers first-generation college students

Participants to benefit from long-term peer-to-peer support

By Mandi Enger

As part of its recently launched Nepantla Program, Nevada State College (NSC) has launched its first summer bridge with an initial cohort of 24 first-generation college students. The summer coursework will span six weeks with students participating in two courses: foundational math and English composition, based upon individual placement testing.

The NSC Summer Bridge is unique in that students not only have the opportunity to acclimate to college coursework, but they start their college experience with a group of similar students in order to foster peer-to-peer support, said Leila Pazargadi, NSC assistant professor and director of the summer bridge. We see the students maintaining a support system for each other as they progress in their educational and career goals over the next four years and beyond.

Additional workshops and activities throughout the six week program link students to faculty and community members; helping to build confidence, leadership skills, and alleviate any fears/uncertainties about starting college. Our objective is for the summer to serve as an introduction to college life that empowers students to start their college career without the feeling that they are on their own or that they may get lost in the crowd, added Pazargadi.

Other activities in the summer bridge include a weekly schedule of community and campus speakers covering topics such as career and professional development, cultural and identity formation workshops, and internal college processes. Students will additionally participate in a field trip to the local planetarium.

The summer bridge is one component of the comprehensive Nepantla Program at NSC that provides both students and their families a network of support where they may gain experience, voice their concerns, and share positive practices as they navigate college together, said Nicholas Natividad, NSC assistant professor and director of the Nepantla Program.

Participants in the summer bridge are 2013 high school graduates from NSC partner schools including Basic, Rancho, Eldorado, Chaparral and Sunrise Mountain. Students were required to meet the NSC admissions requirements. Scholarships were provided for each of the summer bridge participants by the NSC Foundation.

Following the summer coursework, students will transition into the Nepantla Program First Year Experience that will again emphasize a rigorous academic schedule, while providing workshops and service learning projects that promote student success and career preparedness.

Funded through a Nevada College Challenge Access Grant, the Nepantla Program works with high school educators, students, family members, and administrators to establish a college bound culture in the community.

Our overall goal with the Nepantla Program is to empower typically underserved individuals to take control of their education and career experiences, make confident decisions about their future, and ultimately achieve their dreams, Natividad added.

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