Bridge program commends Saturday Academy participants

Saturday Academy keynote speaker

Susan Stith, senior director of diversity, inclusion and corporate giving for Express Scripts, presents at the 29th Annual Award Recognition and Closing Ceremony of the UMSL Bridge Program’s Saturday Academy. (Photos by Katlyn Sansone)

When local high school student Alex Hudson reflects on his experience in the Bridge Program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, his alarm clock comes to mind – in a good way.

“Early mornings, beep, beep, the alarm goes off, and I realize that this is all part of an ingenious plan to prepare us for the future,” said Hudson, a Gateway STEM High School junior who spent many recent Saturday mornings at UMSL. “Becoming an early riser, establishing a strong work ethic and becoming an asset to my community are concepts I’ve learned in this program.”

Hudson is one of about 450 local high school students who were formally recognized at a ceremony March 14. Held at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis, the event marked the conclusion of another successful year of hard work by the students, parents, staff and faculty as well as community leaders involved in Bridge during the 2014-15 Saturday Academy program.

Saturday Academy participants

Student speakers (from left) included Devin Billups, a senior at Hazelwood Central, Azaria Foster, a junior at Westminster Christian Academy, and Darryl Monroe, a senior at Christian Brothers College.

The program focuses on early college preparation for a successful transition to college, providing free-of-charge services that build academic proficiency as well as personal and professional development. Now in its 29th year, Bridge has maintained a 100-percent college attendance rate among participants.

“Prior to the program, I never gave much thought about what college I would attend,” said Jeannie Buchanan, a senior Ritenour High School student. “Bridge really helped to simplify the process and brought clarity on what should be my next steps.”

The more than 1,700 attendees present for Saturday’s closing ceremony heard from keynote speaker Susan Stith as well UMSL Chancellor Tom George and several student presenters.

Stith is senior director of diversity, inclusion and corporate giving at Express Scripts, where she oversees the Express Scripts Foundation and co-chairs the enterprise-wide United Way campaign. She’s been widely recognized as a champion of diversity in the St. Louis region and beyond.

UMSL’s Bridge Program was recently named a 2015 “What’s Right with the Region!” honoree by FOCUS St. Louis. The program is now taking applications for its Summer Academy, which begins in June and serves students currently in ninth and tenth grades.

The UMSL Experience


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