The Colleges welcomed 27 incoming first-year students participating in the Summer Academic Opportunity Program. Lasting until Saturday, Aug. 4, the intensive five-week orientation provides students with the necessary skills to be successful in college and beyond.
“It’s a great start to the school year, like a backstage pass, said Peer Tutor Advisor Shavonne Ward ’09. “It helps to have things reinforced.
Much of the focus is on academics, with Jennifer Roche, a former HWS assistant professor providing instruction in math, Assistant Professor Cerri Banks, in social sciences; Sam Vann, Coordinator of Student Services at the Center for Teaching and Learning, in study skills and time management; and instructor Susan Hess in writing and English. Assisting Hess are Writing Colleagues Sarah Whalen ’06, Stephanie Bishop ’07 and Alexandria Hanson ’08.
Students also participate in enrichment seminars that provide valuable information about the Colleges, including an orientation to conducting research in the library and a meeting at the Center for Global Education to learn about study abroad opportunities. They also meet with the staff at the Salisbury Center for Career Services to explore internship and fellowship opportunities, make alumni contacts and begin career planning.
Assisting the faculty with the program are Peer Tutor Advisors Ward, Andrew Ridore ’09, Manuel Duran ’08, Tonnica Thomas ’08 and Brandy McCloud ’09. Ward, who attended the program as a first-year and was an advisor last year, says that they function as teaching assistants and peers to help the students find comfortable places within the Colleges.
Further, the students experience firsthand what it is like to live on campus. They are housed in Hale Hall and their resident advisor, Michael Hoepp, is available to provide guidance. Edith Wormley, assistant director of Opportunity Programs, says living as a group is important because many first-year students, several of whom are from different states, find it difficult to adjust to the small-city environment that Geneva offers.
SAOP, which has existed at the College for about 20 years, has a proven success rate: nearly 90 percent of students who attend the program graduate.
“It has them better prepared for the full academic year, and it takes away some of the anxiety of being on campus, said Wormley. “These things can be very crucial.
Ward concurred, adding that it is a great opportunity for the students to explore interests that they might want to pursue at the Colleges.
“I hope they find what they want to do in life, maybe find a passion, she said.
In the photo shown above, students attending the summer orientation program gathered for a photo at the President's House following a barbecue. Jim Burruto, director of opportunity programs, is pictured front row left.