When Radford University's annual Summer Bridge Program (SBP) opened July 10, it brought 64 high school girls to campus, a sizable increase from participation by 40 girls in summer 2010.
The students – rising sophomores, juniors and seniors from across Virginia – studied science, technology and mathematics with Radford University professors during the weeklong residential program.
"Gifts that range from $850 to $25,000 from individual donors and corporate sponsors make SBP possible,” said Orion Rogers, dean of the College of Science and Technology, which hosts the program. “Their generosity has a positive impact on the lives of the girls who are academically and socially enriched by their experience on campus.”
An essential element of Summer Bridge is demonstrating to high schools girls, especially those from families of modest means, that higher education is within reach and introducing them to careers in science and technology that they might not have considered otherwise.
Many classes for the week are taught by female faculty members who serve as mentors to the girls. Among those who taught this year was Donna Boyd, professor of anthropological sciences, who was honored in 2006 as U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
SBP is free to participating students, thanks to scholarships from the program’s sponsors. Dominion Resources and Project Discovery, SBP’s two inaugural sponsors, this year contributed $25,000 and $5,100, respectively. The gift from Dominion Resources provided 31 scholarships for girls in Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington and Wise counties. Project Discovery sponsored six scholarships for girls from across Virginia.
Verizon gave $24,000 this year to establish the Verizon Space Exploration curriculum track and to sponsor 16 girls from Danville, Staunton, Pittsylvania and Augusta counties.
Other corporate sponsors this year were Alpha Natural Resources ($2,500), Areva ($1,000), ATK ($4,250) and Novozymes ($2,300).
The keynote speaker for this year’s closing banquet was RU alumna Dale Lee (M.B.A. ’85), vice president of RGC Resources Inc., the holding company for Roanoke Gas Co. and Diversified Energy Co. She sponsored a scholarship for a participant in the Verizon Space Exploration track.
Rogers expressed gratitude to all the benefactors on behalf of the faculty, staff and students involved in SBP. “We are genuinely appreciative for the generosity of the individual and corporate partners and their tangible support of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for young women,” Rogers said. “Their investment in the education and lives of the girls who attend will be rewarded with young women who have a better understanding of these fields and a more genuine appreciation of the value of higher education."
To learn more about SBP 2011, contact Ann Brown, program director, at email@example.com.