Palm Beach State College’s NextGen Summer Bridge Program continues to grow

On Monday, June 17, 2024, Palm Beach State College welcomed its largest group of 150 students for the third annual NexGen Summer Bridge Program on PBSC’s Lake Worth campus. During this free two-week program, students, who are first-time freshmen and often the first in their family to attend college, receive academic, financial and personal support to help them navigate college.

Students also are offered an opportunity to take the three-credit hour Introduction to the College Experience class. The aim is to give students a jump start on their academics by taking the course PBSC requires for all first-time college students. Students who complete the entire program are eligible for a $500 first step to success scholarship from the Foundation for Palm Beach State College which covers the cost of the class and books. Last year, the Foundation awarded $38,000 in scholarships to NextGen students.

The NextGen Summer Bridge is an effective enrollment and a retention initiative, said Dr. Karline Prophete, Interim Dean, Student Development and Success, who spearheaded the initiative. According to research, students are 96% more likely to be retained by attending a summer program, Prophete said. “This program works because of the individualized attention students receive from faculty and support services,” Prophete said. “And they have the opportunity to engage with each other and gain peer support before 4,000 other students join the campus.”

The program has doubled in size since its launch in 2022, thanks in large part to the College’s outreach efforts with Palm Beach County high schools. PBSC has advisors embedded at 11 different county high schools four days a week during the school year.  These PBSC employees work hand in hand with the high school guidance counsellors answering any student questions and ensuring they are directed to the right resources to enroll. “Our tag line is: College is possible,” Prophete said. “Everything we do is centered around that message.”

During this year’s NextGen program students were introduced to the Student Support Services team and learned about Career Pathways and campus resources. Additionally, they listened to motivational speeches and attended workshops centered around themes such as My Strength is My Superpower, facilitated by Debra-Anne Singleton, the College’s Learning and Professional Development Manager. Students also heard from English professor Allan Nosworthy who shared his background, experiences and what he learned on his travel adventures to Alaska, California and Mexico. He also brought out an actual toolkit in a demonstration illustrating how they too could use their tools to succeed. The program ended with a cross-campus scavenger hunt where students had to take a selfie at various locations around campus to familiarize themselves with all the resources PBSC has to offer.

For students like Ellen Martinez, a former dual enrollment and NextGen Student from Santa Luces High School, the two-week program set her off on an educational journey she never knew was possible. The eldest daughter of immigrants from Brazil and Honduras, she was the first in her family to attend college. “NextGen gave me a jumpstart on college and the motivation to do better,” she said. Martinez was one of six students in the 2022 cohort to complete her Associate in Arts degree in just one year after being challenged by Prophete and the NextGen team. Now she is at Florida Atlantic University studying for a Bachelor’s in business administration and she hopes to continue on for a Master’s in Business. “I didn’t think I was a “school” person, but the NextGen program showed me how education can change your life,” Martinez said.

Now Martinez is paying it forward. While attending FAU, she works at PBSC helping students and their families complete the registration process. It’s a job she first started as a work-study student immediately after completing the summer program two years ago at Prophete’s suggestion. “I want to help others get the same kind of opportunity,” Martinez said.

For more photos click on the Flickr album below:


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