Mendenhall Summer Institute Completes Second Successful Year
Celebrating its second year of success, the University of St. Thomas Mendenhall Summer Institute bridged the gap between high school and college for 44 UST incoming freshmen.
The five-week program, held from July 2 to August 5, prepared students admitted to UST for the rigors of college-level studies, while earning 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, 18 students will be awarded grants of $2,000 per year for four years contingent on academic performance.
In its second year, the program was able to serve a greater number of students, expanding from 25 in 2008 to 44 in 2009. The participants in both Mendenhall Summer Institute and the Science and Math Summer Institute comprise nearly 25 percent of the incoming freshman class. The 69 students in both programs got an early start to their college education, received cohesive support through academic advising, mentoring, tutoring and counseling; and made friends before the semester began.
“We met have met with Mendenhall Summer Institute participants to determine what we could alter to improve the program, and we learned that last year’s program model works, and the students are happy,” said Dr. Elizabeth Maynard, assistant professor of psychology and Mendenhall Summer Institute director.
The Mendenhall Achievement Center was established in 2008 as the result of a generous gift to the University from Trini Mendenhall Sosa, former owner of Fiesta Mart, Inc and a former board member at UST. The students had the opportunity to meet and express their gratitude to Mendenhall Sosa at a luncheon on August. 4. Mendenhall Sosa thanked the students for choosing to attend UST.
“The Mendenhall Achievement Center was created because the University wants you to excel and reach your potential,” Mendenhall Sosa told the students. “The one thing I ask of you, is if you are ever in need, please ask for help. There are wonderful mentors, advisors and counselors here to help UST you. Now that you have had the advantages which this program provides, please be a friend and help the new students in August.”
Ethan Bing, a graduate of Katy High School, said he applied to UST because of the University’s Catholic foundation, small class sizes and high acceptance to dental schools.
“When I got the Mendenhall flyer in the mail, I applied right away,” Bing said. “I was attracted to the opportunity to earn credits early, and the possible scholarship is always a plus. My main motivation was to develop a sense of community with my classmates and to get to know professors on campus before classes start.”
Bing was one of 19 Mendenhall Summer Institute students who chose to live on campus this summer.
“I was pleasantly surprised by my experience in living in Guinan Residence Hall,” Bing said. “It reminds me a of a hotel; it’s very spacious a lot bigger and nicer than dorms I have seen at other schools. I’m glad I will be living on campus in the fall, because I won’t have to worry about commuting from Katy in traffic every day, I will have breakfast, lunch and dinner available right there and I can walk to class in five minutes.”
Natasha Alvarez, a graduate of William B Travis High School in Richmond, thought the Institute would be a good opportunity to gauge the difference in workload between college and high school.
“I thought that advantage would help me manage stress in my freshman year,” Alvarez said. “UST is such a writing-intensive school, and professors expect a lot from their students. The English class we took this summer really helped me understand what professors will expect from me in the fall.”
Johnathan Hart, a graduate of Jersey Village High School, said he also saw significant improvement in his writing over the course of the Mendenhall Summer Institute.
“Anyone who is even slightly intimidated about their first semester in college should definitely check out the Mendenhall Summer Institute,” Hart said.