Bridging the gap between high school and college

Sha’lante Carmoe listens to a Whole Foods employee talk about the affordability of healthy organic food, which students were learning about in conjunction with this year’s Summer Reading book.

Antoinette Newsome was lucky to graduate from high school.

“My freshman year we started off with 285 students and maybe half of us graduated,” she said.

Newsome, now a Carolina junior majoring in management and society, knew that coming to UNC from a small high school in rural North Carolina would be tough.   So she applied and was accepted to the Summer Bridge program.  (Watch the video.)

Summer Bridge, a program of the Center for Student Success and Academic Counseling in the College of Arts and Sciences, was established three decades ago to give incoming first-year students the opportunity to get a jump-start on their college careers at UNC.

During the months of June and July, a group of about 60 incoming first-year students spend seven weeks on UNC’s campus.  During that time they take two courses, a math or chemistry class and an English class, and receive six hours of academic credit for the completion of their work.  The classes allow students to get a feel for college-level coursework and potentially elevate their GPA before their first year at Carolina even begins.

Rosa Munoz picks squash at the campus community garden.

In addition to their daily classes and study sessions, students are given opportunities to explore UNC’s campus and learn about various programs, clubs and activities.  Current UNC students like Newsome work as tutors and counselors, offering guidance and advice about college life.

This summer, Newsome worked as one of the English tutors.

“I love people,” Newsome said.  “I want to see first-year students succeed.”

Many former Summer Bridge participants and staff speak about the family atmosphere associated with the program.  Friendships formed during Summer Bridge last through college and after.

“I still talk to the people I was in Bridge with,” said Tony Tucker, a participant from the summer of 2002.  “The memories you take from it, the things that you learn – it’s invaluable.  It really is.”

Story, photos and video by Mary Lide Parker ‘10