For 26 years the Bridge Scholars Program at Colorado State University has been responsible for giving students the preparation they need to succeed at CSU. The connections made across campus, study habits gained, and access to a variety of student support services make the transition from high school to college that much easier, especially in the critical freshman year.
With a mission to provide an immersion experience for first-generation and limited-income students, the Bridge Scholars Program is built upon three pillars: academic rigor and preparedness, student engagement, and leadership development. Bridge Scholars complete an eight week residency on campus, participating in two summer courses, student engagement activities, and service leadership opportunities. The Bridge Scholars also have opportunities to engage one on one with financial aid counselors to learn how to finance a long-term education.
For alumni of the Bridge Scholars Program you may remember one of the three pillars a little better than the others; academic rigor and preparedness. Yes the counselors still pace the dorm hallways, and, yes, phones still need to be turned off.
“At first it was difficult for me to adjust to a ridged schedule and accept the rules,” says Nicole Tribelhorn ’01, a Colorado State University and Bridge Scholars program alumnus. “It was different than what I have ever been used to. However, I quickly learned to appreciate the boundaries, the consistency, and the authority. I knew that this program wanted to see me succeed and had the tools to help mold my future. The leaders of the program acted as older siblings who wanted to help me succeed.”
Nicole graduated from Colorado State in 2001 with a B.S. in Interior Design. After pursuing a career in real estate and graduating with a master’s degree in Criminology from Regis University, Nicole is now an investigator for the State of Colorado in the Division of Real Estate.
“I truly believe I am where I am today because of the push I had with Talent Search and the Bridge Program. The guidance I had with these programs sent me down a path that I am proud of today. Not only did they encourage and help me get to college, but they helped build the person I am. To this day, I teach my children about the accountability, responsibility, and determination that I learned from these programs. I am proud to see that there is no question in my children’s minds that their life path will include a college degree,” said Nicole.
That is why Nicole has agreed to give a leadership gift to support the Bridge Scholars Program in 2017.
In high school, Nicole faced significant barriers to education.
“Both of my parents struggled with alcoholism and addiction. My brothers and I were witness to a great deal of violence. Being in a single parent home with a mom who worked full time, there was no discipline in our home. We were on a limited income and every day was unpredictable. We did not know many people in our new town and didn’t have family near. I never dreamed that I would ever be able to attend college, as neither of my parents went to college,” says Nicole.
Nicole’s perspective changed when her friend talked to her about the Talent Search Program, a TRIO program at Thompson Valley High School. Nicole applied to the pre-collegiate program and was accepted. Nicole’s eyes were opened to the potential she had and the idea that she could go to college. After being accepted to CSU, she was accepted into the Bridge Scholars Program, receiving a scholarship for the eight week residency.
“I believe the Bridge program in general, and all of the people who represented the program had the biggest impact on my education,” says Nicole. “They showed me that there was a way for me to go to college. They planted a seed, nourished my mind, gave me tools, and showed me what my future could be like with their guidance. They helped me to grow personally, by helping me develop lifelong tools. The only thing left for me to do was make it happen with determination and drive. They were like the family support that I had always needed.”
If you would like to join Nicole in supporting the 2017 summer Bridge Program click here. A gift to the Access Center fund will provide support for summer programming.