AT&T has awarded the University of the Virgin Islands a grant of $30,000 in support of its 2014 Summer Bridge Program, according to the university.
“We are grateful to have received this funding from AT&T,” said Maria Fleming, interim director of UVI’s Center for Student Success, which oversees the program. “This generous donation has made it possible for us to accept an additional 10 students into this year’s program.”
“Since the Summer Bridge Program helps give these students a jump start into their college careers at the University of the Virgin Islands, without having to take any remedial courses, the students are more likely to complete their programs in a timely manner,” she said.
Summer Bridge is a free, five-week, residential program offered on UVI’s campuses on St. Thomas and St. Croix. It is designed to strengthen the critical reading, writing and math skills of participating students with intensive classroom work, thus improving their chances for success in college. It is open to students who have graduated from high school and are planning to enter UVI in the fall.
Incoming UVI students can turbocharge their chances to test out of first-year remedial classes, saving up to a semester of time and $10,500 in expenses, through the nearly free five-week Summer Bridge Program, according to a news release from the university, adding that, when the program is done, its students are preregistered for the fall, giving them a “leg up” on getting the classes they need.
The classes are not for everyone, however; those who scored more than 490 in the mathematics portion of the SATs and more than 500 on the critical reading section are exempted from the placement tests that the Bridge Program is designed to help with. But for those taking placement tests, the summer classes are a very low cost way to get extra preparation.
According to UVI’s website, a typical UVI student living on campus will spend almost $20,000 per year on tuition, fees, materials, textbooks and living expenses – a little less if they live with their parents and a little more if they live on their own. So a student who places out of all four remedial classes by working hard and applying what is learned in the bridge program could save up to $10,000 by skipping the four remedial English and mathematics classes – a full semester’s load. And they may graduate earlier or have the opportunity to take more classes of their own choosing.
“With the expansion of the Summer Bridge Program, UVI will be able to grow their outreach to more students to be able to enhance their preparation for and chances of long-term success while attending UVI,” said Ray Flores, AT&T regional vice president for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Summer Bridge Program, which is going into its fourth year, is supported by Title III funding, along with additional support from members of the business community and funding from Quantico Consulting Services and the V.I. Department of Labor, according to Fleming. “With the added funding from AT&T, this year’s Summer Bridge Program has enrolled 40 students each on St. Thomas and St. Croix, expanding on the success of the program and the success of the students it enrolls,” she said.
AT&T’s Flores presented the AT&T check and visited with students enrolled in the St. Thomas section of the program on Wednesday.
Recent Charlotte Amalie High School graduate Kamanza Tonge, who is participating on St. Thomas, said she is particularly happy with the program’s reading and writing courses. “If it wasn’t for this program, I would have to take these as skills classes in the fall,” said Tonge, who will major in English at UVI. That would mean devoting valuable time during his freshman year to taking noncredit courses.
“Thanks to this program, I won’t have to.” Tonge said, adding that the fact that the program is free “means more people can take advantage of it. I think this summer bridge program is basically just what it says – a bridge to get you where you’re going.”
Keosha Auguste, a graduate of Central High School on St. Croix, plans to major in nursing at UVI on St. Croix in the fall. “So far it’s great,” she said, adding that it helps her to “feel like I’m getting into the adult stage. It feels a little different, because I don’t have mommy and daddy here. I’m doing things on my own.”
Along with regular academic classes, Auguste also likes the College Success course, which teaches basics like “learning how to get student worker jobs.”
Another Summer Bridge student on St. Thomas is Ivanna Eudora Kean graduate Shantel Hector. “It’s going good so far,” she said. “In the writing class we’re learning strategies to make our everyday writing stronger.”
Hector said she plans to major in psychology at UVI in the fall. “I think psychology will require quite a lot of writing,” she said. She would advise other students to apply for the program. “It’s teaching us responsibility and getting us ready for college,” she said.
“Basically this program gives you a dose of college before you even attend,” said Samuel Joseph, who graduated from the St. Croix Educational Complex and is enrolled in the St. Croix program. He applied after a friend told him about it. “It’s a good way to utilize my summer,” he said.
In the fall, Joseph plans to major in business administration at UVI on St. Croix. He particularly likes the program’s reading class. “It’s just not reading. It’s critical thinking,” he said. “It helps me use my mind. No matter how broad an idea, it helps me to extract the main points.”
In addition to this grant for the Summer Bridge Program, AT&T presented a $28,000 grant last November to support another 2014 summer program, the Math Behind the Science Bridge Program. Math Behind the Science is designed specifically for students interested in pursuing careers in science, mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine. The earlier grant brings the company’s total financial support for UVI summer programs this year to $58,000.
For more information on ways that foundations and corporations can support UVI and its students, contact Richard Cleaver, UVI’s director of Corporate, Foundation & Government Relations, at (340) 693-1042 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.