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Summer Bridge Program for first-generation students

August 11, 2017

First in their family to attend college, freshmen get head start on engineering studies at Texas A&M

Applause and cheers filled the Bethancourt Ballroom at Texas A&M University's Memorial Student Center on Thursday afternoon as family members alternated between clapping, crying and snapping photos of loved ones beginning their academic careers at a graduation ceremony of sorts for the Engineering Summer Bridge Program.

The program -- split into two sections, one sponsored by AT&T and the other by the Zachry Corporation -- is designed to help support the transition of first-generation engineering students from high school to college. The incoming freshmen take an engineer fundamentals math class, learn about tutoring and other support resources offered by the university and live on campus for six weeks, giving them a chance to make friends, get oriented with the campus and have a real college experience before other freshmen get settled.

Participating students are the first in their families to go to college, and the programs are designed to ease them into life on campus -- a transition particularly fraught with challenges since they don't have immediate family members to speak with about the challenges of navigating college life.

"You're the most important students on campus," Chancellor John Sharp told the crowd, because the decision to attend college would "change the fortune of your family forever."

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