Closing Ceremony Crowd

During four intense weeks in June and July, local high school students focused on their futures by taking part in the UMSL Bridge Program’s Summer Academy. Participants and their parents gathered July 11 for a closing celebration. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Scores of local high school students turned their summer break into a time of serious and memorable growth by taking part in the 2014 Summer Academy offered by the Bridge Program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Participants in the precollegiate program gained academic confidence and key skills to help them make the challenging leap from high school to college—and beyond.

“I feel very prepared for my junior year and each year to come,” said Kahfale Jones, a student at Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights, Mo., and one of more than 200 teens accepted into the Summer Academy. “It was well worth giving up my summer to enrich my life and become a better person.”

Ceremony Speaker

UMSL alumnus Terrence L. Freeman (PhD education 2003), a professor of mechanical engineering at St. Louis Community College–Florissant Valley, addresses local high school students and their parents July 11 at a closing celebration for UMSL Bridge Program’s 2014 Summer Academy. Flanking him at the podium are two of this year’s participants – Zavy Miller, a student at John Burroughs High School, and Kaitlyn McConnell, from Ritenour High School. Looking on is Natissia Small, assistant dean of students and head of precollegiate programs at UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Now in its 28th year, UMSL’s Bridge Program is part of the university’s commitment to community outreach and engagement, providing St. Louis students and their parents with free services that help them overcome barriers that often impede college access. The Summer Academy brings students to campus five mornings a week for four weeks in June and July—a major investment of time and energy for the teens, and one that is paying dividends.

“Our academies take a comprehensive approach focusing on providing rigorous academic preparation, college research and planning, financial literacy, personal and professional development—all areas that are crucial to lifelong success,” said Natissia Small, assistant dean of students and head of precollegiate programs. “As a result, we have been consistent in maintaining a 100 percent college attendance rate among our participating students.”

The high school students speak highly of the program instructors, who focus their classroom, workshop and laboratory activities on science, math, interpersonal communication, ACT preparation, and personal and career development.

“I’ve improved in academic areas that weren’t my strengths,” said Felesha Clarke, a high school sophomore at Lift for Life Academy. “I’ve gained college and career readiness skills that I will take with me throughout my life, and I can now serve as a resource to my peers.”

The Bridge Program is now accepting applications for the 2014-2015 Saturday Academy. The deadline is Aug. 29.

Media Coverage:
The St. Louis American

The UMSL Experience

Evie Hemphill

Evie Hemphill