Kari Forbes-Boyte, professor at the College of Arts and Sciences, led the first official Bridge Program at DSU over the summer. The program took place the week before school started and introduced a small number of incoming freshmen to the DSU campus. Among the nine students present were two student mentors, Megan Yellowboy and Megan Bagola, and seven freshmen. But, what exactly is the Bridge Program?
According to Professor Forbes-Boyte, the Bridge Program is a state funded program that is intended to increase the graduation rate of Native American college students by introducing them to the campus they will be attending. During the week the students were taking part in the Bridge Program, they were assisted with getting set up for classes and also went through social, cultural, and academic activities to prepare them for college life.
Social activities included picnics, movies, and pizza nights. The students were also taken to Thunder Road and Sky Zone in Sioux Falls. Some of the group’s activities can be viewed on their YouTube page, DSU Summer Bridge, and on their Facebook page, DSU ACCESS Summer Bridge. Darian DeVries, Dominique Clucas, and Ian Barse—three of the freshmen from the Bridge Program—all agreed that the social activities were their favorite because they had the chance to make new friends before school started. These three students are also in Forbes-Boyte’s GS 100 class, and mentioned that they still do activities similar to those done in the Bridge Program.
For the cultural side of the program, the students participated in several history workshops, including a medicine bag tutorial. Students were also instructed on how to become a “warrior in education”, and recently spoke with Jerry Fogg, an artist who had work on display at DSU.
The academic activities the students participated in helped them prepare for their classes. They were taught how to create “Me-Movies” about themselves, which worked as an introduction to the tablet technology. They were also assisted with purchasing their book for class, taken to get their tablets, and shown around campus before move-in day.
Forbes Boyte mentioned the possibility of a Native American student society starting on campus. When asked for future Bridge Program plans, she mentioned that she would like for GS 100 to be a part of the Bridge Program in the future so that the students can continue to have access to the program during the school year.
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