Bottom Line students at the Share The Dream Banquet, Feb 2013

Bottom Line students at the “Share The Dream” banquet, February 2013

This past February, I had the privilege of attending the annual “Share the Dream” banquet for students in the College Now/START program at UMass Dartmouth. Carol Spencer, Director of College Now Program, said that it is held every year to, “celebrate the success of the College Now/START Program.” The first-years are “officially welcomed into the University by receiving a certificate acknowledging their completion of the program.”   Staff say that, “The Banquet is a wonderful way to celebrate and empower our students to continue striving.”

College Now/START is an alternative admissions program that supports students throughout their first year of college, by providing additional academic support and mentoring. Many Bottom Line students are enrolled in this program and have begun to see the benefits of taking a reduced course load and attending extra tutoring hours their first two semesters of college. There are currently 30 first-year students from Bottom Line in College Now/START Program, and 52 Bottom Line students have participated since 2009.

My student, Etiene, was asked to be one of two current College Now students who gave a speech at the banquet. In the days leading up to the event, he said that he was nervous and yet his speech was ready, thanks to the support of his College Now advisors and the Writing Center. At the “Share the Dream” banquet, Etiene brought the crowd of students, parents, faculty, administrators, and supporters to their feet! I could not have been more proud of him and was truly moved by his speech.  Etiene was also awarded a $3,000 Talent-Merit Scholarship from College Now.  It was a testament to his hard work this past semester.

Etiene, as he gives his speech at the Share The Dream Banquet

Etiene, as he gives his speech at the “Share The Dream” Banquet

I believe that alternative admissions and bridge programs at colleges are great options for hardworking and determined students who need more help preparing for college. UMass Dartmouth is not the only school with these types of programs. Students can often find summer programs or first year intensive programs that will help support their academic needs. Programs such as Passport at College of the Holy Cross, AID at Worcester State, OTE at Boston College, and PLUS at Framingham State are all great examples of alternative admissions or bridge programs.

Some students are discouraged or disappointed to find out they have been selected for such programs because they may have to take a reduced course load, spend a few weeks of their summer taking college classes or attend mandatory tutoring sessions. These students should be excited for such programs! Not only do they offer lots of academic support in order to succeed in the first year of college, but a chance to build stronger relationships with peers and school administrators with which many students to not normally get the chance to interact. Bridge programs help students gain comfort with the rigorous coursework found in many college-level classes and understand what the rest of their years in college will look like. Over 90 Bottom Line students from the high school Class of 2012 went on to attend bridge programs at Bottom Line’s target colleges.  I love it when our students are able to take advantage of existing resources to better handle the transition to college and help them reach graduation.

– Kira Terrill

Success Counselor, Worcester

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Last Wednesday, 100 guests joined us at Mechanics Hall in Worcester for our third annual Get In, Graduate, and Go Far Reception. Now in our fourth year of operation in Worcester, Bottom Line has continued to grow and expand: we serve 150 high school students and 165 college students locally. On Wednesday, we were lucky enough to hear the stories of two of those students, Crismel Calderon (a senior at Assumption College) and Fredery Muñoz (a first-year at College of the Holy Cross). Their stories of resilience remind us why we all support Worcester’s youth. Thank you to the Worcester community for helping us guide Crismel, Fredery, and hundreds of other determined students to and through college. Below are videos of Crismel and Fredery’s speeches.

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Me and my current roommate Darlene having fun (after doing our homework!)

One of my greatest fears when deciding to come to college was living with a roommate. My fear did not revolve around having to share a room, since I’ve shared a room with my siblings my entire life; I was more concerned with whether or not I would get along with my roommate. (In case you are wondering, my college has a limited amount of single rooms, which are usually occupied by seniors.) I’ve had two roommates in the past two years and, luckily, everything has turned out just fine.

Since I had no friends from home attending Holy Cross with me, I had to complete a Roommate Questionnaire before freshman year that asked me about my living preferences. Based on my answers, I was randomly assigned with a roommate in a freshmen dorm hall (Wheeler!). We quickly added each other on Facebook and started sending messages back and forth in an attempt to get to know one another before schools started. We lived together throughout the entire year and I got along with her very well. Although we are no longer roommates, we still remain friends. 🙂

This year, I live in Clark (Sophomore dorm) with my friend, Darlene. She lived three doors down from me in Wheeler last year and since we had a class together we instantly bonded. We spent a lot of time together and I have to admit that I would not have had such an amazing freshmen year if it weren’t for her friendship. Whether it was doing homework in the library, sledding on top of plastic bin containers (when we should have been studying for finals!), going around taking silly pictures, or randomly walking around campus with footed pajamas and masks on, we always had an amazing time. It was obvious that we should dorm together our sophomore year.

Our only fear about rooming together was whether it would negatively affect our friendship. Rooming with a best friend is hit or miss. It can either go very well or it can be a complete disaster. The last thing I wanted was for our friendship to be strained because we were not good roommates. Luckily, rooming together did not ruin our friendship and we are still good friends. 🙂

Many students who will be freshmen in the fall have the same fear I did when I was a freshman. I can assure you that everything will turn out fine. If there is any problem that cannot be resolved by talking it out, you can always seek out your Resident Assistant or Resident Director for advice or (in dire circumstances) request a roommate change. So don’t sweat it!

Until next month,

Kristie

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My name is Kristie Simonó and I am one of the many college students in Bottom Line’s Success Program. I am currently a sophomore at the College of the Holy Cross, where I study Psychology and Spanish and (if I keep my fingers crossed) I will also be completing the Latin American and Latino Studies concentration. From now on I will be blogging about my college experiences and my journey through life on “The Hill” (that’s Holy Cross’s nickname) with the help of Bottom Line.

Kristie at Bottom Line's send-off celebration for new college freshmen.

You may recognize me since I worked at Bottom Line’s front desk (my 2-year anniversary is coming up in March!) and recently I started working as a Bottom Line Counselor Intern, helping the high school Class of 2011 complete their Financial Aid paperwork. I am excited to say that I will be returning this summer to help the Class of 2012 get in to college! If you have not been able to tell, I am obsessed with Bottom Line and I am practically a walking advertisement.

This semester I am enrolled in four rigorous courses that are very time consuming. I am currently in Physiological Psychology, Language and Diversity in Latin America, Research Methods, and Liberation Theology. One of my favorite things about Holy Cross is that it is a Liberal Arts school, so I am taking courses outside my major. This will help me get a well-rounded education and give me insight into the world outside of Psychology and Spanish.

Although I love Holy Cross’s rigorous academics, I have to admit that it can be very stressful at times. Next week, I have my Spanish exam on Monday, Physiological exam on Tuesday, Liberation Theology exam on Wednesday, and my Research Methods exam on Thursday. Did I mention that I have a Spanish paper due on Friday too? If I manage my time well, I am hopeful that I can survive that dreadful week. I just always need to remind myself that the tears shed and the sleepless nights will all be worth it in the end!

While juggling all of the work that I have to do for my classes, I have to remember to complete my Financial Aid paperwork before the deadline passes. Luckily, my Bottom Line meeting with my counselor Marilyn is coming up this week, so I will be able to submit everything on time.

I promise to keep you updated on all of my college experiences through this blog.

Until then,
Kristie

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