PRCC students build confidence in Bridge to College program

July 13, 2011 - 7:51am -- braswell

POPLARVILLE - Thirty-two new college students recently spent a day throwing foam balls and a rubber chicken to each other, naming names and building a team.They are enrolled in Pearl River Community College Bridge to College program to get a head start on academic success.The program allows students eligible for Student Support Services to earn up to 9 college credits while learning the skills to be successful in the community college setting.The first day activities helped break the ice.They see me doing silly things, as a person with my mask down, said Dr. Robert Escudero, director of Student Support Services at PRCC. It brings us together as a team.The students will spend the next month brushing up on basic academics and learning study skills before fall semester classes begin Aug. 15.Before the students arrived, the Student Support Services staff spent two days in Project Adventure training which they used in working with the students on the first day of the program. The St. Michael Foundation paid for the training.Some of the activities are designed to make them work as a group, said Georgia Field, Student Support Services educational adviser . Some of them are just silly, to de-stress. Friendships are made on that first day.The activities also help create acceptance among the students, 15 of whom have a physical or learning disability, Escudero said.You do an activity and after the activity, you process what happened, what they learned from that, he said. Group dynamics take over. It a way to get people together and learn about themselves. The first thing we do is play a name game. At the end of about an hour, everybody know everybody name.It helps the students overcome some of their negative perceptions of themselves and others. It helps the kids accept each other.Students in the Bridge to College program qualified for Student Support Services assistance, based on ACT scores, grade point average in high school or college, graduate of a GED program and/or being a non-traditional student who has been out of school for more than five years.Participants must also meet at least one of the following criteria - low-income, neither parent has a four-year college degree or a disability.Students in the Bridge program paid no tuition and were required to apply for Pell Grants to cover the cost of books, room and board.