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Saturday, May 21, 2022

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The BRC has successfully completed the center's pilot Summer Bridge Experience program. The BRC has successfully completed the center's pilot Summer Bridge Experience program.

BRC Seizes Opportunity to Increase Transitional Programming

The Black Resource Center on campus just completed its pilot Summer Bridge Experience program for incoming freshman students.
By Lainie Fraser

Bonnie Reddick was searching for ways to get incoming Black students involved with the San Diego State University community prior to the start of classes – a bridge of sorts. Her search for additional transition programming led her to collaborate with campus colleagues to develop the Summer Bridge Experience.

“I decided we needed to develop a summer bridge program for our Black students,” said Reddick. “We needed a program so that Black students can get connected in the summer so that when they start the fall they come in knowing somebody.”

The Summer Bridge Experience (SBE) was designed by Reddick, the director of SDSU’s  Black Resource Center, in coordination with  other faculty and staff. Together they created a program to bring incoming Black freshmen together, address the common issues these students experience during their first year of college and create a community they can lean on beginning their first day on campus.

“One thing we know for a fact is that when Black students come to campus, if they are not immediately connected with someone, they get homesick, they feel isolated, they’ll go home and they won’t return. We wanted to help students make that connection in the summer,” said Reddick.

The SBE consists of class meetings Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for three weeks. The classes are taught by faculty from around the country and expose students to content areas identified as areas where Black students struggle when they first come to campus, as well as college readiness tips and tricks. Through group projects and presentations, the program also ensures students are creating a community for the beginning of school in the fall.

“The Black Resource Center's summer transition program is a terrific example of how SDSU uses creativity and innovation to support student success,” said Jessica Nare, associate chief diversity officer for student engagement. “The BRC team identified a need and quickly developed a thoughtful and robust initiative to support incoming students.”

Jaynel Birden participated in this summer’s pilot program.

“SBE helped take some anxiety off your shoulders knowing that you have some key tips on how to transition into college,” said Birden. “Through this program I feel like I have made a huge connection with a lot of new people in just a couple of weeks and I feel more confident and safer going to SDSU because I know I have professors who have my back and will help me along my journey.”

Reddick said she knew trying to teach content in three weeks was going to be challenge, so she had all faculty involved focus on three main ideas, moving from a fixed to growth mindset, building a community, and racial identity development.

“Unless it is their major, students approach difficult subjects with a fixed mindset, ‘I don’t do well in math, or I don’t do well in writing,’” said Reddick. “We tried to show them that there are different avenues they can take to get help in the areas they struggle in,” said Reddick. “Students that don’t know about those resources will struggle alone and they will give up.”

The idea of moving to a growth mindset was key for Birden.

“My biggest takeaway from SBE was to never let someone silence your voice, and that having a growth mindset is the key to success,” said Birden. “This lesson was very important to me because it reminded me that giving up and staying silent is not an option, especially not now with everything going on in the world. I will take that lesson with me everywhere I go.”

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, SDSU will be offering a majority of classes virtually, and Nare says this makes community even more important.

“Developing community is always important, but the stakes are even higher in a hy-flex learning environment. Programs like SBE are critical to help students feel welcome and ready to begin the next stage of their academic journey.”

For Birden, being exposed to virtual learning and community building has prepped her for a successful semester.

“I would recommend this program to anyone who is transitioning from high school to college,” Birden said. “It really gives you a leg up compared to other students plus you get to create bonds with people before even arriving on campus. This program gives you all the skills you need to do well in your classes and out of classes.”