Summer Academy 2017: Our Biggest One to Date

After many weeks of intense preparation by staff and 50 student volunteers, Bright Prospect welcomed its newest cohort of students at this year’s Summer Academy!  The week- long annual event is an introduction for rising high school sophomores and juniors to the Bright Prospect program and to the benefits and experience of going to college.
Summer Academy 2017 was held at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont from July 24th to 28th, and was attended by 220 enthusiastic students.  The week began with a Monday evening parent meeting to introduce the staff, familiarize the students’ parents with the Bright Prospect program and the benefits a college education can provide. Many of our parents had very limited access to education themselves, and as a result are unfamiliar with the college application process or even that financial aid exists.

Throughout the week, students participated in workshops such as what colleges look for in an applicant, financial aid and scholarships, an introduction to the different types of institutions such as community colleges, private liberal arts colleges, Cal States, and UCs, setting goals and personal growth, and building a Crew support team. Twenty Bright Prospect college students have spent their summer volunteering for Bright Prospect, and Summer Academy wouldn’t have been possible without them. The college volunteers served as tour guides leading the high school students around the different campuses within the Claremont Consortium such as Pomona College, Scripps College, and Claremont McKenna. Summer Academy participants also had the opportunity to ask the college volunteers about their experiences as part of the College Life Student Panel on topics such as paying for college, living on campus, academics, and social life.
Summer Academy is also an opportunity for students from the eight different high schools Bright Prospect serves in Pomona and Ontario to become comfortable meeting new peers.

The staff planned activities such as a scavenger hunt, a networking speed-meeting, and a game called “The Value of a College Education.” In this game, students from different schools were put into small groups and had to make budget choices for housing, transportation, food and entertainment based first on the wages of a worker without a college education, and then based on a salary earned by a professional with a four year degree, to impress upon the students that “the more you learn, the more you earn.” On Thursday, participants were treated to a field trip to Los Angeles, since many students lack the opportunity to venture far outside Pomona and the surrounding community. They went to the California Science Center, had a picnic dinner at the Hollywood Bowl, and ended the evening there with a classical music concert under the stars. Bright Prospect makes it a priority to take the students to different cultural outings to broaden their worldview and interests, and to help them develop into well rounded citizens in the future.

On Friday, participants broke into small groups by gender for the Young Women’s and Young Men’s Voices discussion, where they opened up about what motivated them to go to college. Quite a few students told emotional stories about their parents’ struggles and how that motivated them to achieve higher education so they can provide for themselves and their families in the future. Other students talked about making their parents proud and taking advantages of educational opportunities their parents didn’t have access to growing up. After Summer Academy, students will attend Bright Prospect programming at their respective high schools when school begins in the fall.

The staff would like to give a big thank you to our donors who make our programming possible, and to the hardworking college and high school volunteers who helped make Summer Academy 2017 a success!

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