UVU’s Summer Bridge Program Gives High School Students A Head Start
May 10, 2012
For Immediate Release
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Cheryl Kamenski (801) 863-6351
Summer Bridge programs at Utah Valley University are helping under-represented high school students learn how to navigate college. Participating students are able to take tuition‐free college courses and also adapt to UVU campus life, gain access to student support services and learn effective academic skills.
“Above all, the students in the program learn that they are capable of college-level work,” said Axel Ramirez, an associate professor of secondary education at UVU. “This helps parents see that their child can be successful in college so the discussion moves to finishing college rather than whether to attend.”
The Summer Bridge programs started in 2009 with the School of Education’s Latino Educators of Tomorrow (LET) program to not only increase the number of Latino students who graduate from UVU and the School of Education, but to also help create a support system for those students. The programs demonstrate to students how their talents, interests and strengths are vital in the improvement of our local communities.
“We anticipate that reaching Latino students early and providing the support for them to engage in a teacher education program will start a cycle of success for students who need to be major players in society,” said Briant Farnsworth, dean of UVU’s School of Education.
The programs along with UVU’s Latino Initiative, which further supports students attending UVU, have been a part of a concentrated effort to increase the number of Latino students attending and graduating from UVU. And, the numbers have steadily increased as bachelor degrees have more than doubled from 105 students in 2007 to 216 students in 2011.
“These programs provide an opportunity for low-income, first generation Latino students to explore different career fields, and to understand the many advantages of obtaining a higher education degree,” said Yudi Lewis, who directs the UVU Latino Initiative program.
Maria Lopez was a part of the initial Summer Bridge group and graduated from UVU in April with a degree in elementary education. She hopes to get a teaching position in the Alpine or Nebo school districts and credits the Latinos in Action program for helping her realize that teaching is what she wanted to do and the LET program for helping her reach her goal.
Lopez started working with Latinos in Action, where secondary students tutor, mentor and serve as role models for local elementary students, as a sophomore at Provo High School. She enjoyed working with elementary school children so much that she decided to become a school teacher. During this time, she also learned about the LET program offered by UVU.
“The classes in the Summer Bridge program were regular classes so I got to see what college would really be like,” Lopez said. “I proved to myself that I was capable and I got college credit for the classes I took. It really gave me a head start.”
Completing her degree in three years, Lopez is the first student from the LET program to graduate.
“She will be a remarkable teacher because of her academic strengths, but also because she loves children,” Ramirez said. “She was very successful in our program and I expect her to have a wonderful career and serve as a great role model for students of all backgrounds.”
Lopez also hopes to be a role model to her siblings. As the first person from her family to graduate from college, she plans to encourage her siblings and the children she teaches to get involved early, take advantage of the resources available and talk to their counselors to come up with plans to attend college.
In addition to the LET program, Summer Bridge now offers seven others. They include Latino Scientists of Tomorrow, developmental math, political science, computer science, hospitality management, automotive and basic composition/library science. There is also a college preparation course available at the Wasatch campus.
Students attend an orientation prior to the program, which usually runs from late June to early August. For more information on Summer Bridge, visit www.uvu.edu/bridge/.
Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to more than 33,000 students. UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since has evolved into a technical school, community college, state college and, finally, a comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utah’s largest institutions of higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education.