Story By Chris Lopez, Bridge to Success Intern
Just a lone summer separates high school graduates from college: A short time for such a drastic change.
In 1998, Dr. Madrigal, director of the 'Bridge to Success'program at Texas A&M International University, felt high school graduates needed better preparation for their transition into college. He then proposed the 'Bridge to Success' program to the South Texas Work Force and received funding to begin. Bridge is now in its fifth summer with its 74-member Class of 2002.
Bridge to Success offers college-seeking students the opportunity to immerse themselves in an almost total college experience, paired with work and study opportunities, before starting their freshman year. They live on campus at University Village and spend most of their time there unless on supervised trips.
"Students get a head start in their future plans with Bridge," said Martha Treviño, Bridge program coordinator, "they learn to be independent and responsible."
All students partake in a work-study that tries to reflect their careers and gain valuable work experience. Bridge students can be found working all over campus, from the Registrar's Office to the President's Office.
Treviño said students work for a total of 150 hours during the summer. But exposing students to a working atmosphere is just half of Bridge's goal -- each student must earn nine credit hours. Students choose their classes and are responsible for passing them. Private tutors are available and designated exclusively for Bridge students to help ease their transition.
Students are required to stay on campus grounds at all times, but Treviño noted they enjoy leaving campus every so often.
Every weekend, Bridge schedules activities that allow students to explore Laredo by going to the mall, movie theaters, clubs, and throughout Texas in visits to cities like San Antonio and Houston. Bridge participants come from cities across 10 counties in South Texas and the Middle Rio Grande Valley.
People join Bridge for different reasons, but one student, Veronyka Morón, from Crystal City, said she joined Bridge to start her future early.
"I wanted to experience college life now," she said, "I couldn't wait." Morón also said she enjoys discovering new friends and people in a new environment. "You learn something from all of them and that makes it worth coming here," she said.
For more information on TAMIU's Bridge to Success Program, please contact Martha Trevino in the Office of Special Programs at 326.2765. University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
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