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Nine ISU freshmen participate in Chrysalis Summer Bridge Program

By Nancy Serrano, School and Community Relations Liaison for CTEPPP

(September 5, 2007) This summer, nine ISU freshmen from four Chicago Public High Schools participated in the inaugural Chrysalis Summer Bridge Program sponsored by the College of Education’s Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline™ Programs and Partnerships (CTEPPP), ISU’s Office of Enrollment Management and the Office of Admissions. Support for this pilot program was funded through a Teacher Quality Enhancement grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The program helped first generation college students acclimate themselves to ISU through college level courses, development seminars, college life workshops, social events, and mentoring provided by current College of Education students. Since they were already on campus, Bridge students were also afforded the opportunity to move-in to their dorms in advance of other freshmen and returning students, which helped ease a smooth transition.

The Chrysalis Program was developed to offer an academic and socio-emotional transition support for students coming from underserved areas on the south side of Chicago. The program took place on campus from July 25th through August 15th, where students took three college preparation classes: Reading in Content Areas, Mathematics, and Writing. Students attended development seminars in important topics such as time management, study skills and strategies, and money management. University College and Financial Aid facilitated the seminars. “The Bridge program is great because it gives you a hands on feeling of real college, it is an opportunity to meet great people and get great resources,” said Brittany Perkins, an Elementary Education major.

Aside from academic preparation and support, Chrysalis offered students the opportunity to become more socially and culturally acclimated to the college life. “This program has given me the opportunity to see and experience college life before it even starts. It has allowed me to overcome the fear of being the minority student and making friends,” writes America Alvarez. Students participated in weekly college life workshops led by ISU student mentors, and attended weekend outings that included riding public transportation, visiting Normal Public Library, shopping at the mall, opening a bank account, and other typical college life activities of ISU students.

Overall, Chrysalis was a huge success! Students did well in their classes and felt very prepared for the semester start. “I would like to say that I am very glad that I came to the bridge program. I feel as though this program has really helped me get adjusted to college life in general. All of the mentors have been really helpful with everything, from the homework that we get in our classes, to how to get around on the bus,” said Carlos Trejo, a participant majoring in Business.

According to Robert Lee, Director of the Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline, “ISU faculty mentors have been recruited to provide an additional “layer” of academic and social support for Bridge students throughout their first year. Of course, we hope that this relationship will continue beyond their freshman year and carryover during their academic career at Illinois State.” Although the bridge program ended on August 15th, Chrysalis mentors also continued to mentor Chrysalis students during the first two weeks of school. In addition, some Chrysalis students have also enrolled in the Success 101 class, taught by Maggie Im, an academic advisor from University College.

The initiation of the Chrysalis Summer Bridge Program is just one way that the CTEPPP is helping first generation minority students ease the transition from high school to college, from living at home to living away on campus. “The Summer Bridge Program is not just a place to get you prepared for college, but it helps you meet new people and feel comfortable with who and what is around you. It’s like a second home, it’s a second family,” said Nestor Huerta, a Biology/Physical Education major.

The Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline Program & Partnerships program has partnered with Chicago Public High Schools (CPS) on the southwest side of Chicago (Big Picture-Back of the Yards, Community Links, Curie, Juarez, Kelly, and Little Village-Lawndale) to establish and sponsor TEACH club chapters (Teacher Education and Access to College for High-schoolers) to encourage CPS students to become teachers and return to teach their respective communities. Although the initial idea was to work with education majors only, the Chrysalis program was expanded to include any CPS student from a partner high school attending ISU in the fall of 2007. CTEPPP will continue to work with these schools and hopes to continue to increase enrollment of CPS students at ISU. “Last year, we had no students from our partner schools attend ISU and this year we had ten! That alone is a huge success! We hope to continue this success by continuing to offer programs like the Chrysalis Summer Bridge Program and TEACH,” said Nancy Serrano, School and Community Relations Liaison for CTEPPP.