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Mendenhall Summer Institute Celebrates Fourth Year of Success

/public/getfile.asp?File_Content_ID=13028Celebrating the success of its fourth year, the University of St. Thomas Mendenhall Summer Institute bridged the gap between high school and college for 46 incoming freshmen.

Mendenhall Summer Institute participants had the opportunity to meet and express their gratitude to Trini Mendenhall-Sosa, whose generous gift to the University established the Summer Institute and the Mendenhall Achievement Center at a luncheon on August 3.

“Time has passed so quickly since we started this program four years ago,” Mendenhall-Sosa said. “It’s hard to believe that our very first Summer Institute students will be graduating this May.  Every year, I see how this program has helped our students progress and become more and more successful.  I hope to continue that positive trend for many years to come.”

The five-week program, held from July 7 to August 4, prepared students admitted to UST for the rigors of college-level studies and offers the opportunity to enroll in six UST credit hours in math and English for a total fee of $500.

Students who have successfully completed the program are eligible for Mendenhall grants based on academic performance and financial need. This year, 12-14 students will be awarded grants of $2,000 per year for four years contingent on academic performance.

This year, the Institute expanded its academic offerings to include two tracks of study.  The first track is a College Bridge program consisting of English and mathematics. The second track is a STEM program, specifically focused on mathematics and scientific methods, and designed for science, mathematics or engineering majors. The University previously offered a separate STEM summer program but combined the two programs after a federal grant for the STEM program expired last year.

Dr. John Starner, associate dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, taught the STEM courses, “Success Through the Enhancement of Mathematical Skills” and “Introduction to Scientific Research Methods.” In the College Bridge track, Dr. Evelyn Potter taught “The Nature of Mathematics” and Dr. Clinton Brand taught “The Culture of Writing.”

Institute participants also benefit from interacting with five student mentors, sophomores who completed the Institute last year.

“The student mentors have an essential support mechanism for our current Institute students,” said Dr. Ric Montelongo, director for Student Success. “Since their Mendenhall experience is so recent for our mentors, they shared a lot, led peer workshops in afternoon, taught our students about time management, study skills and things to do in Houston.”

Summer Institute student Joveline Ollero comes to UST from Hawaii. She made long trip to Houston upon the recommendation of her aunt who lives in Houston and cousin who graduated from UST last year. She hopes to pursue a career as a pharmacist and plans to major in biology.

“I didn’t get to go to a Catholic high school, and my faith is really important to me, so I wanted to go to a Catholic university.” Ollero said. “The Mendenhall Summer Institute taught me that college is really different from high school. I learned that I have to be more accountable to myself, and that nobody is going to remind you to do your homework. I know I will have a lot of support at UST, but I am learning  time management, study skills and how to be more self-reliant.”

Philippe Nguyen graduated from Stephen F. Austin High School in Sugar Land. He chose UST so he could stay close to home, continue to be involved in his church and get an outstanding faith-based, private education. He plans to major in biology.

“The English class we took this summer really helped me improve my writing in a short time,” Philippe said. “In high school, I was so used to plugging numbers into formulas, but this math class challenged me to use critical thinking and made me look at problems from a whole new perspective.”

Zach Weik graduated from Mayde Creek High School in Houston. He chose UST because he liked the small classes, the quality of education UST offers and the opportunity to grow in his faith.

“The Mendenhall Summer Institute showed me how much harder I am going to have to work in college courses compared to high school,” Weik said. “I was able to meet a lot of friend , great professors, tutors and mentors who will help me be successful in the fall and for the rest of my college career at UST.”

Weik expressed his appreciation for Mendenhall-Sosa’s continued generosity and involvement in the program.

“I just want to thank Mrs. Mendenhall-Sosa and the University for providing this great program,” he said. “I hope we can help others in the future the way she has helped us.”

Learn more about the Mendenhall Summer Institute or the Mendenhall Achievement Center.