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FM Summer Bridge: Big homies, mad love

High school senior Dasha Stubbs was having a great day. Her stellar play at an all-city basketball tournament earned her both the tournament MVP award, and the attention of several college recruiters, including FM’s Athletic Director, Kevin Jones.

Jones convinced Dasha to apply to FM and, before she could even find Johnstown on a map, she was signed up to attend FM’s Summer Bridge program for new students.

Summer Bridge is a free, week-long, immersive, on-campus experience meant to help bridge the gap between high school and college and get students prepared for a successful transition to college life.

FM’s Summer Bridge program is run collaboratively by the TRiO/Quest, CSTEP and EOP programs and includes preparatory course work, field trips, and lots and lots of useful information. Most of all, though, Summer Bridge is about building relationships with other students and staff and learning to think of FM as a home away from home.

Like any new student, Dasha was unsure what to expect from FM. She wasn’t sure how she felt about being away from home, wondered if she would make friends, and wanted to know more about majors and programs. She wanted to know what the school was all about and how she could make the most of it. She had a lot of questions.

From the minute she stepped off of the bus from N.Y.C., Dasha “felt the love” emanating from FM and its staff. While she had visited other schools, FM was the only one to offer her a week-long program, and she could tell right away that there was something different about FM. Everyone was friendly, people made the effort to get to know her, and right from the start she felt like people really cared.

Bridge week was a great experience for Dasha. She enjoyed the many field trips, including a trip to Saratoga to see the New York City Ballet, and a day at Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George where she got to kayak and practice archery, as well as participate in lots of fun team building activities with other Summer Bridge students.

In addition to the fun things, Dasha also appreciated learning about all the resources available to her on campus and brushing up on student success skills such as time management and planning. By the time Bridge week was over, her confidence had grown and she knew FM was the right place for her.

When I asked Dasha to sum up her FM Summer Bridge experience, she said that she felt “mad love here” and that she “couldn’t wait to come back” for classes in the fall. She felt that her week was not only fun, but left her “well prepared” for school in the fall.

Not only did Dasha meet new people during Summer Bridge, but the relationships she built during that one short week have continued to sustain her during her first semester.

With a special shout-out to her “Big Homie,” TRiO Academic Coordinator Audrey Egelston, Dasha said that all the Summer Bridge staff seemed dedicated to helping her succeed, and really seemed to care about her as a person. With her Summer Bridge “family” in place, FM feels like home.

Michelle Bilodeau-Lanne is the Quest Counselor/Academic Advisor at FM.

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