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IUN's Summer Bridge program builds connections for start of college career

IUN's Summer Bridge program builds connections for start of college career


GARY — In a summer where Hoosier high school students have not sat in a classroom since mid-March, Indiana University Northwest is expanding its Summer Bridge Program.

IUN is adding a second week to its annual program that seeks to bring campus introductions and college readiness skills to incoming freshman and transfer students.

The free program, open to students of all majors, places students in an interest-based cohort to connect them with professors in relevant disciplines and give students a taste for various IUN academic programs.

Summer Bridge also seeks to build college readiness skills through integrated quantitative, verbal, public speaking and critical thinking activities, said Kris Huysken, an associate professor of geosciences.

“Summer bridge is really described just like is says, as a bridge, as a pathway, from high school to college,” Huysken said. “The goal really is for students to develop connections to one another, to faculty, to mentors and to the campus.”

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Students who register online are invited to join a week of programming, including an emphasis on arts and humanities, social and behavior sciences, and STEM fields.

Bridge participants will engage in interactive sessions from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday and present what they’ve learned in a “Student Showcase” event from 2-6 p.m. Friday, the final day of the program.

This year, Summer Bridge will still take place in person, but precautions will be taken to adhere to social distancing.

The summer cohorts are typically small, but this year groups will be divided into smaller sections of no more than 10 people, Huysken said.

In addition to typical college orientation activities, the program will add an online component to familiarize students with IU’s online education management system should students be enrolled in virtual learning classes this fall.

The first Summer Bridge session will be Aug. 3-7 on the Gary campus. A second session — added for the first time this year through a Summer 2020 Covid-19 Learning Support Grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education — will take place Aug. 17-21. Fall instruction online and on campus begins Aug. 24.

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Students in past Summer Bridge programs have participated in interactive history hikes and water quality testing activities at the Indiana Dunes National Park.

Josue Martinez-Santa, a computer information systems transfer student who participated in Summer Bridge last year, said the program helped him explore new interests and meet new people coming into a university where he didn’t know many people.

“It was a good way for us to get that first group of friends in school,” Martinez-Santa said, adding, “It opened up my eyes to experiences I never would have considered.”

Students who register for Summer Bridge this year will earn a $250 credit to help pay for books as a first year student at IUN. Bridge participants will also be allowed to enroll in a freshman seminar class for up to four credits.

For more information about IUN’s Summer Bridge program, or to register, visit

Gallery: Class of 2020 virtual graduation

Virtual graduation: NWI colleges

Students of this spring's Class of 2020 will graduate in circumstances like no others.

Some will celebrate virtually. Others may push back traditional ceremonies until later this summer. All will come at a distance.

This year, in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, The Times is saluting these seniors.

We invited students to share a few words with the Region; including speeches they had prepared for graduation day, their teachers' support and advice to students who will soon follow in their footsteps.

Here's to the Class of 2020.

Compiled by Carley Lanich, Matthew Moore and Kale Wilk.

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