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Entrada Returns to Calvin Campus
June 14, 2006

From Sunday, June 18 through Friday, July 14, 50-plus students from 10 states and four countries will move onto the Calvin College campus to participate in the 2006 edition of the Entrada Scholars Program.

Entrada, Spanish for “entrance” or “gateway,” immerses high school junior and senior students of color in a college experience whose core is academic excellence.

“From the application process until the moment they come on campus, we communicate that this is a scholars program and that we expect excellence of anyone who is admitted to it,” says associate director of admissions Tasha Paul, the interim Entrada director.“And time and time again, they meet and exceed our expectations of them as scholars and as leaders in all areas of their lives-not just academics, but socially and spiritually.”

Entrada scholars (this year’s crop hails from California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Canada, Guam, Guatemala and South Korea are high-achieving students nominated for the program by their pastors, guidance counselors, teachers, community leaders or other “influencers.”

Each of the admitted scholars receives a $2,500 scholarship to attend the program.

Entrada is built around a three-week college course.

The scholars enroll in one of six Calvin summer classes (communications, biology, psychology, English, history or philosophy) sharing the classroom with regular Calvin students.

“They are not given any special accommodations,” Paul says. “They are required to do the coursework just like anyone else.”

The program does assign each Entrada scholar an academic coach who attends the class and does a daily two-hour academic coaching session with the student. This year, for the first time, each scholar will also have an academic peer coach, a student who has completed one year at Calvin and will teach the scholar time management and study skills. The intentional mentoring pays off as Entrada students regularly perform at and sometimes above the level of the Calvin students in their classes

“The majority of Entrada scholars excel,” says Paul.

The program also models the college experience outside the classroom. Scholars live in a Calvin dorm, eat in the residence halls, study in the library, work in the computer labs and shoot hoops in the gym. They also attend area churches and spend an occasional afternoon at the beach or Michigan Adventure.

The leisure activities are well earned, Paul says.

“With all that they have to do," she says, "I think they have to have fun to balance it out. They have a ton of fun, which contributes to the relationship building. You have to enjoy each other’s company to build that kind of community.”

The Entrada experience will end at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 14 with a graduation ceremony. Entrada scholars who choose to attend Calvin will receive a $1000 Entrada grant for every year they attend.

Since it was founded in 1987 as part of Calvin’s Comprehensive Plan for Integrating North American Ethnic Minorities and Their Interests into Every Facet of Institutional Life, Entrada has proven successful in encouraging students of color to expand their academic careers beyond high school. Ninety-six percent of Entrada scholars graduate from high school and go on to college. Since 1991, 507 students have completed Entrada, and 207 of them have enrolled at Calvin.

Paul, who has served Entrada as an academic coach, has witnessed the program’s impact on the scholars who participate in it.

“At the beginning you see the anxiety and the nervousness that the students have, and by the end of the program, they have become really, truly a family. It’s amazing to see the transformation,” she says.

“They gain skills. They gain friendships that they will have for a lifetime. They develop spiritually. Those four weeks affect them for the rest of their lives in a positive way. Unless you experience it, it’s unexplainable. It’s a life-changing time.”

~written by media relations staff writer Myrna Anderson