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SBCC Summer Bridge Programs Help At-Risk Students Transition to College

Special sets of courses are designed to break down barriers to higher education

For many young people, summer is a time to take a break from the pressures of attending school. However, for 129 at-risk students enrolled in the SBCC Summer Bridge programs, the summer is focused on a special set of courses and interactions designed to ensure a successful transition to college.

The program series is run by SBCC’s Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and partially funded by the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College.

“The EOPS Summer Bridge programs give students, who for whatever reasons did not believe they could successfully attend college, the opportunity to succeed in the college environment,” EOPS Director Marsha Wright said. “Not only do they succeed in the summer, 88 percent of the participants continue their college education in the fall semester. We have alumni from the summer bridge programs who have gone on to pursue master’s degrees and are now working in professional jobs in our community.”

Each summer bridge program is customized to a specific student population. All offer specially tailored College Success courses, other college courses or EOPS orientation, peer advising and mentoring, tutoring and weekly field trips.

Running Start is a six-week summer bridge program for local at-risk high school students who did not think they could ever attend college. German Fernandez, a Goleta resident and graduate of Dos Pueblos High School, first learned about Running Start after hearing an EOPS counselor presentation at his school.

“The program has helped me think about how to motivate myself rather than letting others judge me,” he said. “I wasn’t sure where I was going with my life, and Running Start has shown me there are lots of opportunities out there. It’s like training wheels for college and the future.”

This fall, German plans to attend SBCC and pursue a degree in kinesiology.

SPARC (Single Parents Arriving Ready for College) is a six-week summer bridge program for single parents who are new to college or returning to college, or who are single-parent students struggling academically.

“SPARC’s personal development courses have taught me interaction and social skills and how to deal more effectively with others,” said Claudia Herrera, who graduated from Carpinteria High School. She is the mother of a 3-month-old daughter and plans to major in nursing this fall at SBCC.

Transitions is a six-week summer bridge program for recently released inmates or individuals on probation or parole. Danny Macias Jr., a Santa Barbara resident, speaks strongly about how the program has helped him turn his life around.

“I’m a former gang member and have been a parolee for 13 years,” he said. “I’ve messed up in the past and want to change.”

Macias, who is the parent of two children, a 13-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, added, “I have full-time custody of my daughter and want to be able to take care of her.”

He has been enrolled at SBCC for seven months, and the support he received from the college has substantially changed his outlook.

“SBCC helps with financial aid, buying books and child care,” he said. “People believe in me here, and I want to make it, not only for myself but my family as well.”

Macias hopes to attend SBCC in the fall and pursue a career in drawing and graphic design.

“SBCC serves students from a wide variety of backgrounds,” SBCC Superintendent/President Dr. Andreea Serban said. “Many of our students have had to overcome significant obstacles in order to pursue their educational goals, and SBCC has been here to assist them every step of the way. The EOPS Summer Bridge programs are excellent examples of the commitment by both the college and the Foundation for SBCC in helping ensure that all students, regardless of their circumstances, have an opportunity to go to college and achieve their life dreams.”

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.

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