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Mendenhall Prepares, Encourages Student Success

College freshmen, peer mentors, faculty and staff gathered at the University of St. Thomas Mendenhall Summer Institute annual luncheon to meet the institute’s sole funder and biggest supporter, Trini Mendenhall, and to celebrate the institute’s seventh year of successfully preparing students for their first semester of college.

The MSI is a month-long intensive institute to prepare incoming freshman for the rigors of college level curriculum, while introducing them to other aspects of student life such as residence hall living and co-curricular activities.

University President Robert Ivany welcomed students with a few words of encouragement and thanked Mendenhall.

“We are blessed to have people like Trini Mendenhall who believed and saw the potential beyond what we saw, even when we really had nothing,” Ivany said. “There’s no better way to support and encourage the future classes than have the previous classes come in and volunteer and participate in this institute, which you can see they’ve done. This speaks volumes in and of itself. And it’s joyful to see you as you have so much hope and anticipation for the future.”

Mendenhall came from a family that instilled in her the importance of an education. She said it is the student’s dedication and enthusiasm for the institute, and the faculty and staff’s willingness to accept each student that enters the classroom as part of their family that makes the institute what it is today.

“This is the start of a journey that will only get better,” Mendenhall said. “What you learn here in these few weeks of summer is going to help you in your education and future, and I just cannot wait for the next four years when I see you walk across that stage.”

The MSI curriculum includes two tracks of learning. The STEM track is geared towards science, mathematics and engineering majors, and the CELT track provides students with challenging foundational courses in mathematics and English. Both tracks introduce students to skills that are crucial for UST’s curriculum such as college level critical thinking and the experience in lab settings to enhance mathematical and problem solving skills.

A total of 34 students and eight peer mentors were a part of this year’s MSI. Two students, Vanessa Trivino and Dejaih Smith, shared their experience with peers.

Trivino, a student in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics track, said she wanted to become accustomed to the campus while getting to know people before the fall semester starts.

“This experience has opened my eyes to what college will be like,” Trivino said. “Going to class and seeing it firsthand is so much different than high school. There is a sense of community, and everyone is smiling. It’s great. I think we’re pretty prepared for what’s to come in the fall. We’ve created a unique bond with everyone, and it’s something we’re never going to forget.”

Smith, a student from the Creating Engaged Learners & Thinkers track, said she knew going into the institute that it would require diligence, but she came out with a new perspective on herself and the confidence she needs to take on her first semester.

“Since I started at the Mendenhall Institute, I have been evaluating myself,” Smith said. “Being a part of Mendenhall just reassured me that I was ready for college. It made me realize I have all the tools around me to succeed, and that I should take advantage of them as much as possible. I can honestly say I am prepared for my first semester.”

The institute was held from July 7 through Aug. 7, and allowed students to earn six college credit hours, as well as have the opportunity to earn a grant for tuition at UST.

To learn more about the Institute, visit the Mendenhall Summer Institute page or contact the Office of Admissions at 713-525-3500.

By Elaine Rivera