The University’s annual Summer College marks 10th anniversary.

August 2016 – Eighty high school students from Newark, N.J. and New York City took classes, met mentors and lived on campus as part of Drew University’s annual Summer College program.

Drew professors work closely with students from Newark.
Drew professors work closely with students from Newark.

Summer College gives teenagers from cities the chance to spend a week in The Forest and take a full schedule of classes. About 600 students have participated in the program since it began in 2006, according to Wendy Kolmar, an English professor who runs it.

Summer College is funded this year by the Salter Foundation (which was founded by Drew Trustee De’Andre Salter C’92), the Teagle Foundation and TD Bank.

Students enter the program through community partners such as the Marion Bolden Student Center in Newark, N.J., Harlem Educational Activities Fund, Union Settlement Association in East Harlem and RU Ready for Work in Newark.

Isha Serrano, a senior at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in Harlem, enrolled because she “wanted to experience college life, and get used to it, before going.” Her favorite class? Public Speaking, taught by Rodney Gilbert of the theatre arts department.

Gilbert taught students breathing exercises to help them conquer the one- to three-minute speeches they wrote. The students also worked on cooperation, following directions and mastering skills through repetition—all keys to a successful academic career, Gilbert said.

Teens learn new skills and see themselves as college students.
Teens learn new skills and see themselves as college students.

Gilbert enjoys witnessing the students’ growth during the intensive week of learning and exploring new things. “You can see the possibility and hope in their eyes,” he said, adding that instilling a desire to go to college in high school students—and the confidence that they can succeed at it—is crucial.

“The whole thing is about achievement. Everyone wants to excel,” Gilbert said.

Kolmar agreed, adding, “It allows us to introduce students, who might not necessarily have that opportunity, to liberal arts education and the idea of a liberal arts college, while encouraging them to think of college as a real option for them and to see themselves as college students.”

Among those seeing themselves as college students was Kaydee Acevedo, a senior at Manhattan/Hunter College High School for Sciences. “I really wanted to see what college classes are like,” Acevado said. In particular, she enjoyed Robert Murawski’s astronomy class.

Having fun in biology lab
Having fun in biology lab

The course lineup ranged from theatre, photography and sociology to biology, archaeology, art history and Latino film. Students also learned about outside-the-classroom opportunities offered to Drewids such as studying abroad, internships and New York semesters, and heard from staffers about financial aid and admissions. When not doing homework, the high schoolers took a campus tour, saw the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s production of Coriolanus and ate barbecue with their mentors—14 Drew undergraduates who worked with the younger students throughout the summer.

Associate Professor Kimberly Rhodes, who taught the art history class, said, “The students, as usual, were curious, open, thoughtful and engaging. These qualities have been consistent in the students I have worked with in Summer College and, together with my support of the mission of the program and admiration of Wendy Kolmar’s vision for it, bring me back every summer.”