This summer, high school students from Middletown and surrounding areas were immersed in college life, often collaborating with faculty and staff across campus, during the summer session of Wesleyan’s Pre-College Access Program. From an overnight stay on campus, to a field trip to Philadelphia to visit colleges, opportunities to get a feel for college life were plenty.
Wesleyan University’s Pre-College Access Program is application-based and is developed to enhance the academic skills and preparation of talented high school students who have an interest in pursuing higher education.
“Our programs tailor to low-income and first-generation college students,” explained Miguel Peralta, director of Pre-College Access Programs and Upward Bound Math-Science at Wesleyan. “Two-thirds of our participants are both.”
Serving 79 students from Middletown, Meriden and New Britain and running from June 22 to Aug. 1, the Pre-College Access Program is made possible by the federally funded TRIO program and designed to strengthen the math and science skills of high school students from Meriden and New Britain. Middletown students are served by Wesleyan funds and private foundations.
During the summer program, students take math, a college-style seminar English class, science, art and Arabic, according to Peralta. The classes were taught by veteran teachers from surrounding towns and Wesleyan faculty, including Cybele Moon, visiting assistant professor of theater, who taught the 3D design art class. Wesleyan staff from the Gordon Career Center through Jacob Gonzalez, STEM career advisor, provided a hands-on workshop to have students identify and think about their life and career interests, and met with seniors to talk about their career ambitions and how that may manifest itself in their experiences and education in college, explained Peralta.
“We kicked off our summer session with an overnight where the students stayed on campus to see what college is like for at least a couple of days,” said Peralta. “That night, we collaborated with the Astronomy Department through Assistant Professor Meredith Hughes to have our students visit Van Vleck Observatory to view Saturn and Jupiter through the telescopes and hear from Wesleyan astronomy students about their research and experiences as astronomy majors.”
The Wesleyan collaboration was further felt with the addition of recent graduates Ruchi Sheth ’16, MA’17; Nick Morgan ’17; and Julian Carraway ’18 on the team.
Sheth returned to campus to teach biology and chemistry classes. Sheth attended Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science program. Morgan and Carraway worked as facilitators, tutoring and mentoring students. Morgan was a McNair Fellow, which is another TRIO program that serves undergraduates in their pursuit of doctoral degrees. Carraway attended the Pre-College Access Program and the Ascend Program, which provides high-quality tutoring, mentoring, and academic and cultural enrichment to Middletown students in the elementary grade levels.
“Our summer program is the centerpiece of what we do,” said Peralta. “It allows students from underrepresented communities to see what it’s like to be a college student at Wesleyan, or in general. They wouldn’t have that without this program.”