Thanks For Believing In Me!

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” 
― Jim Valvano

The above headline was the final sentence of thanks in a letter from an adult student who has been awarded a Horizonte college scholarship to the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC), School of Applied Technology (SAT).

Horizonte teachers and staff do believe in him.  He has been diligently adapting his Mexican math skills to America.  He has been advancing through English as Second Language (ESL) classes and toiling to gain rudiments of English writing. His skills are elementary but growing.  He has scored sufficiently on TABE tests to qualify for his SAT certificate program.

He is one of 19 adult soon-to-be high school graduates of Horizonte, the Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school, who have applied for and been awarded Horizonte Scholarship Fund (HSF) financial assistance for college.  The 19 have been invited to participate in a six week, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, one hour, SLCC “Bridge Class,” co-sponsored by Horizonte and SLCC.  Twenty-seven Horizonte twelfth graders, also HSF scholarship awardees, have been invited.  It’s a first for Horizonte and SLCC.

In the past, Horizonte teachers, administrators and friends who were recruited by HSF board members, acted as volunteer mentors for the scholarship recipients.  Despite best intentions and much effort, the coaching was insufficient and less than relevant.  Many scholarship students failed to advance beyond their first college semester.

SLCC, in cooperation with Horizonte, has involved Horizonte alumni in a Pathways student mentoring program that has aided many in continuing their college quest.  This Bridge effort is designed to have the scholarship students oriented and registered for summer or fall college classes and participating with their peers in Pathways before their high school commencement June 4.

Through the first Bridge week, April 21-25, 9 adults and 11 high school aged scholarship recipients, attended each of the three sessions.  The Bridge is introducing these first generation high school graduates to the new, mysterious, and confusing world of college.  The six week orientation is geared to successfully transition them to their beginning college classes.

Monday, Mindi Holmdahl, Horizonte principal, and SLCC-Horizonte Pathways official Kevin Miller congratulated and welcomed them. Wednesday the associate dean of the SLCC English Department explained the importance of writing in college and life. Friday, SLCC Multi-Cultural Initiatives leader Will Unga, conducted a Q and A on college networking and realities. Yesterday, April 28, Ellie Anders, Pathways developer, organized a five team “scavenger  hunt” to find and identify SLCC vital student services.

The hope is for great scholarship recipient participation.  Those who haven’t attended are being contacted to determine why. Adults are invited.  High school age awardees are expected to participate.  Participation from adults, so far, is more impressive than that of the 17 and 18 year-olds.  Mixing the two named-tagged groups hasn’t been an issue.  I will report on Bridge results, positive and negative.  We’ll continue believing in them.

Question:  Any observations about this fledgling effort to facilitate student success?  

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