Campus & Community

Students get free course, jumpstart to college in Summer Quest

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Selena Barrera was among 100 participants in Palm Beach State’s new Summer Quest program.

With her high school senior year completed, Selena Barrera could have taken a break this summer before starting college, but she decided to get ahead.

Within weeks of graduating from Palm Beach Lakes High School, she was back in school at Palm Beach State College earning her first three college credits and getting a taste of campus life.

“Since I had one required course I felt that I should just do it and get it over with,’’ said Barrera who is pursuing an Associate in Arts degree and a radiography career. “I thought I should get familiar with the campus during the summer instead of going in the fall and getting lost looking for my classes.”

Barrera was among 100 participants in Palm Beach State College’s new Summer Quest scholarship program designed to attract freshly minted high school graduates by giving them a jumpstart on college. Participants received a $500 scholarship to cover the cost of one three-credit hour course and their textbook. They also participated in a workshop on student life and the First-Year Experience program and had an opportunity to win an additional $2,000 scholarship to continue their studies at PBSC.

This year’s program culminated Aug. 7 with an awards ceremony at the Lake Worth campus where the 20 scholarship winners, selected after an application process, were announced. They will receive $500 per semester so long as they maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average.

“Our program is here to encourage and motivate first time in college students to enroll at PBSC in the summer to experience taking a course that will prepare them for the fall term,” said Sharon Simmons, outreach program specialist who oversees the program. “It gives students an opportunity to come to college and realize that they can learn the skills needed to become a successful student and obtain a degree. Sometimes students need to have someone that believes in them.”

Summer Quest replaced the Fast Break and Summer Bridge program, the College’s quarter century old program with a similar mission. However, while Fast Break targeted college ready students who wanted to get ahead by taking a summer course, Summer Bridge was aimed at students requiring a developmental education course based on their college placement test scores.

Summer Quest, which launched this summer, takes a different approach by not distinguishing between the two populations. It also targets students who have not taken dual enrollment courses in high school. Since Introduction to the College Experience is now a required course for all first time in college students, most Summer Quest participants took that course this summer.  Like the Fast Break and Summer Bridge program, Summer Quest does not require students to continue at PBSC, but there is a stronger push to keep them at the College. Simmons said 96 of the 100 participants have already registered for the fall.

Laura Masidlauskaite, a Park Vista High School graduate, said the Summer Quest program and Introduction to the College Experience course have helped her get prepared to work toward her A.A. degree. “In the fall, I’m not going to be lost. I’m going to know where I have to go and what I have to do.”

Xavier Campbell, a Suncoast High School graduate, who is pursuing an A.A. degree with plans to become a computer engineer, said the Summer Quest program and the college course helped him with time management, particularly because he works and goes to school.

“I’m just so happy I took that class,’’ Campbell said. “ I think that’s a class that every first time college student should take, and I think they should take it in the summer.”

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