Chairs clanked together, backpacks dropped to the floor, and students chatted as the room filled with their family, friends, and supporters from College of Marin (COM). These students would become part of a growing number of local high school graduates to complete the Summer Bridge program.
Launched in 2015 with 10,000 Degrees, Summer Bridge was designed as an intensive three-week session to prepare first-generation college students beginning classes in the fall. Since then, the program has expanded each year and has helped 374 students improve their scores on English and math placement tests, develop good study habits, learn about resources available on campus, and create their academic plan.
All this translates into savings in the form of tuition expenses, book fees, and study time.
During the Summer Bridge graduation, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Learning and Success Jonathan Eldridge explained how the program reinforces the advantages of getting familiar with College of Marin (COM) campuses before the fall semester begins.
“Students gain so much from being on campus and learning what and where resources are, and who they can reach out to for support.”
Eldridge always asks the same two things of students who complete the program: Keep showing up and reach out to students that may be struggling.
One Summer Bridge graduate took that request to heart.
Mariya Mulla addressed Summer Bridge students at their graduation in July 2018, telling her story of how the program helped her become successful through self-advocacy and how the guidance led her to study what she is most passionate about.
She also spoke of the connections she made with COM Counselor and Puente Co-coordinator Luz Briceno-Moreno, Ed.D., EOPS Counselor Javier Urena, and Behavioral Sciences Instructor Marco Gonzalez. Developing a support system that spans multiple learning communities, resources, and services creates a network of people students can rely on when they need help.
“This is your second home, the place where you can accomplish your dreams,” says Mulla.
Mulla will complete her sociology and psychology studies at COM this spring and plans on transferring to a four-year university this fall. Thanks, in part, to all the people who have helped her throughout her time at COM, she feels well-prepared for her future studies. However, getting through the transfer process was a challenge—one that she turned into an opportunity to help other students.
“I still needed a lot of help with my personal insight question,” said Mulla. “I remember missing class to get help and feeling stressed at the end of November. I thought, if we had a course offered in summer to help students with that, then they won’t feel so stressed during the semester.”
As a COM student ambassador, Mulla worked with Briceno-Moreno to develop a proposal that would relieve some of the stress inherent to the transfer process. They proposed curriculum changes to the Transfer Success and Educational Planning class that would allow for incorporation of time to work on transfer applications prior to the start of the fall semester.
Elements of the transfer process include a transfer admissions planner, personal insight questions, TAG applications, calculating transfer GPA, and more—all of which require a considerable amount of time to complete and refine. Getting a head start on these during the summer can undoubtedly alleviate pressure and improve the quality of their submissions.
Mulla’s hard work paid off when she received notification that COM accepted the proposal. Briceno-Moreno will be teaching the class to Phase III Puente students this summer. These students have already completed the Puente classes and are working on the final classes needed for transfer.
Briceno-Moreno believes the class will be a success and the new curriculum helpful for students.
Superintendent/President David Wain Coon emphasizes the importance of listening to our students about their experience.
“As educators, it is our responsibility to both teach and listen,” says Coon. “Great educators empower students with the ability to create positive change. Mariya’s course exemplifies this empowerment at its best. Not only has she achieved the educational goals she set for herself at COM, she took an additional step and created a class to help others to do the same.”
Mulla is on track to receive an associate degree for transfer in sociology and psychology, as well as an associate degree in liberal arts, at this year’s commencement. She is the Inter-Club Council representative for Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society, secretary of the Association of Peer Tutors Club, a student ambassador, and a tutor at COM’s Tutoring and Learning Center.