Fall classes began this week and while most first-year students at UNC Pembroke are getting oriented to campus and their classes, Janiel Mercado-Vazquez feels at home.
Mercado-Vazquez is familiar not only with the academic buildings, but he got the opportunity to engage with faculty and staff while participating in Summer Bridge––a six-week academic success program that prepares incoming first-year students for the transition to college.
“It was an opportunity to get a head start over my fellow first-year classmates,” Mercado-Vazquez. “I was able to meet so many people and learn my way around campus. I met people at the CARE Resource Center and the Career Center, who discussed possibly getting a job on campus and ways to volunteer.”
Mercado-Vazquez and 56 incoming students completed two college courses and a leadership certificate program. They engaged with STEM-related employers, including NASA, RedHat, Dominion Energy, Emerging Technology Institute and the Student Health Services at UNCP.
Students also visited a turtle hospital and participated in service-learning projects with the youth program at Pembroke Housing and the Lumbee Tribe Boys and Girls Club.
“To enhance their Brave experience, students attended extracurricular events, including pool parties, a glow foam event and movie night,” said Dalton Hoffer, assistant director for Transition Programs.
In its second year, the program––led by the Center for Student Success––is funded by Dominion Energy, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and the UNC Summer Accelerator Grant.
“We experienced a 78% growth in participation from last year’s program and were able to assist more students in their transition to college,” Hoffer said. “I thank the campus and community partners that played an integral part in the success of this fantastic group of students.”