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Sewanee's Bridge Program introduces high school students to college life

By Daphne Mack
12/5/2006

Participants from the 2006 Bridge Program take a break for a photo during a physics class. Photo: The University of the South.  

 
[Episcopal News Service]  The Bridge Program for Math and Science at Sewanee University of the South is currently accepting applications for summer 2007.

Since 1999, the Bridge Program has offered a research-rich educational experience to 20 rising high school seniors from diverse backgrounds interested in experiencing a taste of college life and advancing themselves in science and math.

"My experience not only allowed me to evaluate whether or not I could see myself on Sewanee's campus, but it also gave me a taste of the expectations, freedoms, challenges, and joys of college life," said Sarah Cooke, a freshman at Sewanee.

Cooke participated in the program in 2005 following in the steps of her three sisters who also participated and presently attend Sewanee.

The campus at Sewanee is home to the School of Theology, one of the Episcopal Church’s 11 accredited seminaries, which offers a full program to prepare men and women for ordained ministry, and education programs that prepare lay leaders and teachers for ministries in all areas of the church.

Students of the June 17-July 7 program will be taught introductory calculus and physics by Sewanee professors, using state-of-the-art equipment and computerized classrooms. Their $2,500 scholarship includes free tuition, room, and board as the selected students enjoy study and recreation on the beautiful 10,000-acre campus in mid-state Tennessee. Participants will stay in one of the residence halls, staffed by live-in college students and a head resident, who will provide supervision and guidance. The program also offers full access to the sports and fitness center, a student activities center, and miles of hiking and biking trails. A number of related field trips are planned.

"Before the Bridge Program, I was clueless about college. I did not know if I wanted to go to college," said Jamie Chavez, a senior majoring in social-science foreign language with a minor in mathematics, who participated in 2002. "However, after spending three weeks at Sewanee I realized that I had to do something with my life after graduating from high school."

According to Robin Hille Michaels, director of the program, approximately 1,500 brochures were sent to diocesan publications and school guidance counselors to recruit participants. Each applicant must submit their transcript, a letter of evaluation from a counselor and teacher, test scores, and two writing samples.

"In addition to providing an educational and life-changing summer experience to high school students, we also encourage these students to apply to the University of the South," said Michaels. "For those who do not matriculate to Sewanee, we keep in contact with them to see how the program has shaped their future. For those who do attend the University, we continue to work with them throughout their four years to help them take advantage of every opportunity offered through the school.”

Currently, there are 12 former Bridge students attending the University of the South "and all of them attest to how the program deeply affected their lives, forging lasting relationships with the other Bridge students, staff and faculty," she added.

Michaels said that normally participation in the program does not guarantee acceptance to Sewanee but last summer's group was so strong that admissions informed them that all that apply and are accepted would automatically receive $10,000 in grant aid.

"It is a great program for high school students wanting to get a better sense of academics in college," said Syeda Hamadani, a senior at Sewanee majoring in chemistry and Spanish with a pre-med concentration. "It is a fun program to meet people and it introduces you to one of the top and most beautiful places on earth!"

Hamadani participated in the Bridge Program in 2002. He said although he was college bound, the experience made him "seriously consider" Sewanee because the faculty was "very supportive and represented the school very well."

The program, said Cooke, will equip you for your senior year of high school as well as college.

"It teaches you lifelong lessons about yourself," she said. "It helps you realize that mommy and daddy won't always be there to guide you and tell you what and what not to do. It's more than a three-week-long math and science program. It's a pleasant experience that you will carry with you forever."

Interested students should apply for the full-scholarship program by March 15, 2007. For information or an application packet call Michaels at 931-598-1997 or email rhille@sewanee.edu. The application may also be downloaded at http://www.sewanee.edu/bridgeprogram.