Bakersfield College helps first year students transition with Summer Bridge Program

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Kern County students are getting prepared to return to class soon and one Bakersfield program is doing its best to bridge the gap for students by providing them with some extra support.

The Now Bakersfield’s Tori Cooper also spoke with program directors and students to better understand just how the Summer Bridge program  works and what students are gaining from the experience.

Cooper spoke with 18-year-old Daryl Maiden who wanted to take a different path than the one that was set out for him. "It really came down to it when I was at a party and like gunshots fired. That's when I decided like going out and not supporting my family and seeing where my family was, it just came to me like dude you have to do something with your life," Maiden said.

Maiden believes that by continuing his education as a first generation student at Bakersfield College it stands for something more, especially for someone like him in Kern County. "That we have like a lot more behind us than just the streets, or selling drugs, or just stopping at certain points in our life and giving up."

Bakersfield College serves over 31,000 students each year according to the college website. The Bridge Summer Program is designed to help new students from any demographic transition from high school to college successfully.

“The majority of our students here about 80 percent of these students are socioeconomically disadvantaged and we want to make sure that they get that jump start to college," Director of the Summer Bridge program, Kimberly Bligh said.

The program takes place over the course of several weeks. The nine hour, one day workshop with faculty is designed to provide students with the necessary tools to be set up for a successful freshman year ahead. "So we make sure to help them understand the barriers they may face, how to overcome those barriers, how to navigate the campus resources," Bligh said.

During the course of the day students will get acquainted with other incoming freshman, teachers, counselors, and financial aid advisors. "We’re basically breaking down their financial aid process and letting them know where they stand in the process. Letting them know of any additional steps they have to take to finish the financial aid application and make sure everything is ready for the fall so that they have their books and that everything is ready to go with the classes," One Bakersfield College Financial Aid Advisor said.

"It makes me feel really secure knowing that somebody actually cares about my financial stability and well being for college," Bakersfield College incoming freshman student Kaysee Stephens said.

The bridge program started just four years ago only serving 400 students, now it is preparing 1,200 students with the confidence needed to take the next step into adulthood using different class exercises and team building activities.

As for Maiden he said faculty feels like family because of their open approach and their ability to help anyone maximize their potential in a structured way. "If you don't know where you are headed in life, or you don't know what to do with your schedule, or anything to do with computers these people can help you."

Maiden said that faculty within the Bakersfield College Summer Bridge program  made it easy for him to open  up about his financial situation and to embrace the next challenge.

If you would like to sign up for the Summer Bridge program next year you can email kvan@bakersfieldcollege.edu

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