Scholars Receive Taste of Bucknell Campus Life
When Matthew Fleming graduated from high school in 2001, he considered college only briefly before entering the workforce. Five years of unskilled, low-wage jobs taught Fleming the value of the college education he had cavalierly dismissed.
"I realized that all the better jobs that I wanted required some type of higher education. I always ended up with jobs where I was using my back instead of my brain," Fleming said.
So, Fleming signed up for a class at Community College of Philadelphia. One class became two, and soon he was on the road to earning an associate's degree in Business. Fleming did so well in his classes that he was selected for the Bucknell Community Scholars Program.
He was one of six students from Community College of Philadelphia to attend the six-week program at Bucknell University this past summer. The university, located near historic Lewisburg, hosted a total of 30 students from community colleges in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The Bucknell Community Scholars Program is part of a four-year initiative to facilitate the transition of community college students to a new academic and residential life experience. Participants are recruited from Community College of Philadelphia, as well as Pennsylvania's Harrisburg Area, Lehigh Carbon and Montgomery County community colleges and Garrett College in Maryland. The scholars program is funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
To qualify, students must demonstrate leadership skills, meet income requirements, have a 3.5 grade-point average and plan to earn an associate's degree before transferring. All of the students in Bucknell's summer program receive full scholarships, including tuition, room and board, during the summer session.
The other Community College of Philadelphia students attending the Bucknell summer session were Marquita Buchanan, Diego Chiri, Alison Coney, Irina Leontyeva and Martita McCray.
Bucknell was Fleming's first experience on a suburban college campus. He enjoyed the rural atmosphere so much, that he plans to return as a full-time, undergraduate student. Fleming is on track to receive his associate's degree from Community College of Philadelphia in June 2009.
"If Bucknell will have me back, I definitely will have all my academic criteria out of the way," the 26-year-old West Philadelphia native said. "I would really love to get my education there."
During their stay at Buck nell, the students take two courses in Statistics, Psychology, or Engineering and also attend one-day courses each week designed to enhance academic skills such as writing, library research and technology use. The students also are teamed with student and faculty mentors who help orient them to life at Bucknell, including cultural, social and recreational experiences. For those scholars later accepted to Bucknell the mentors continue to provide support through the transfer process and throughout their two years at the university.
"The Bucknell educational experience for all students is enriched by having a learning community that better reflects the changes in the nation and in the world," said Kurt Thiede, vice president for enrollment management at Bucknell. "Bringing in students with different backgrounds promotes a diverse learning experience for all of our students."
Susan Tobia, who directs the Bucknell Scholars program for Community College of Philadelphia, said that four College students from the 2007 Bucknell summer session applied and were accepted to the university.