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In UConn summer program, incoming freshmen shift from dread to appreciation

August 9, 2018

Groton — Genesis Tejada recalls getting that “dreadful” letter from the University of Connecticut.

She said the good news was that she got accepted. The bad news was that it was contingent upon her completion of a five-week summer program prior to the start of her freshman year.

But by the time she stood at a podium in Room 308 of the Academic Building at UConn Avery Point on Thursday afternoon, she was speaking of the program’s merits.

“We have all experienced a tiny bit of what our life as college students will be this upcoming fall,” she said. She met students from different cultural backgrounds. She learned about the essentiality of time management. She learned that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

Tejada was the student speaker at the “finale” of the Student Support Services Summer Program and one of 44 participants, the program’s largest class to date.

Aaron Collins, SSS coordinator at Avery Point, explained to The Day that students mandated to complete the program fall into at least one of four categories: first-generation college students, from low-income households, part of underrepresented populations within UConn, or in need of some extra academic support.

The program is meant to increase the enrollment, retention and graduate rates of these students, Collins said, and to aid in their transition from high school to college.

It’s not necessarily reflective of academic struggles: He noted that some students come in wondering, “Why am I in the program? I was valedictorian of my high school.”

Each student in the summer program takes two of the four courses offered and earns six credits. The courses this summer were introductions to theater, sociology, American studies, and individual and family development.

Each student pays a 1,500 an hour.”

After the ceremony, students expressed that while they initially dreaded the program, they made friends and got to know the campus better.

“It really integrates you into the atmosphere here,” said Jordan Reid, an East Lyme High School alumnus. “It prepares you for exams. You kind of get your feet wet.”

Kristiana Quintana and Annie Lang both noted that because of the summer classes, they now will be able to graduate early.

e.moser@theday.com

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