Learning to tap their potential as new California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) students while developing long-lasting friendships and connections on campus, more than 1,000 incoming freshman are participating in the Summer Bridge Academy (SBA), their first step to becoming the graduating Class of 2020.
For six weeks, the students participate in a variety of programs that are critical to developing a strong support system, and essential personal strengths and skills during their first year at CSUDH.
The SBA’s overarching goal is to strengthen the English and/or math skills of incoming freshman who require preparatory courses in those subjects based on their English Placement Test (EPT) and Entry Level Math (ELM) exam scores. They spend many hours in rigorous math or English classes taught by CSUDH faculty as part of the general education (GE) requirement. The rest of the week is focused on the student connection activities and workshops to further prepare them for the fall semester.
“One program that we implemented this year is the Strengths Quest Program. We had all the students take an assessment test to identify what their top five strengths,” said Adriana Williams ’08, B.A, communications), a CSUDH academic adviser. They are participating in a scavenger hunt—talking to 10 of their peers—to find those who have different strengths from them so they may learn from each other. Helping them develop such strengths will continue throughout the school year so they may reach their full potential.”
Along with building personal skills and their academic might, the students have been working in cohorts with peer mentors, current CSUDH students who encourage them to seek peer-to-peer networks and cultivate mentoring relationships both during SBA and throughout their college careers.
Kevin Enriquez, a CSUDH computer technology major and SBA peer mentor who participated in Summer Bridge when was a freshman, has really enjoyed working with his cohort of 67 incoming freshman in 2014.
“My group has been amazing. We have all clicked from the get-go, and I just love that. The students have been very engaging and interactive,” said Enriquez. “When I came to Summer Bridge before my freshman year it was nerve-racking at first. I remember commenting on someone’s backpack just to start up a conversation. But as the weeks passed, I began to meet a lot of people who I am still friends with to this day. I hope my cohort experiences that as they continue their education at Cal State Dominguez.”
Ryan Sherman, who graduated from North Torrance High School, plans to major in biology at CSUDH and possibly minor in computer science.
“I really like the Summer Bridge program. So far it has really helped me get familiar with the campus. Now I won’t be one of the kids in the fall getting lost on campus. And I’ve already made some friends,” said Sherman, who is in Enriquez’s cohort. “I have also learned how supportive the faculty are here, and about things to watch out for, such as plagiarism. It’s pretty common today with the Web. I also learned about other definitions of plagiarism that I wasn’t familiar with.”
The new Toros have also been participating in the Passport to Leadership program, which consists of workshops related to career development, college success, and understanding diversity. Administered during SBA by the Office of Student Life, the program must be completed by all Encounter to Excellence (ETE) and Early Opportunity Program (EOP) students, many of which attend SBA, but is also available to all new and current students during the semester who seek better leadership skills.
“I picked criminal justice because I’ve been involved with helping people since I was young. I like to try to help them solve problems,” said Corina Sannicolas, who graduated from Rancho Alamitos High school. “What will be great about going to Cal State Dominguez Hills is that if we need help we can always find someone, like a peer mentor or adviser. Now I really look forward to getting involved on campus—maybe with some clubs—to get to know people, and to better find myself as a person and a leader.”