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Entrada Begins June 17
June 13, 2007

EntradaOn Sunday, June 17, 77 high school students from 14 states and 3 countries will move into the Kalsbeek-Huizenga residence hall at Calvin College for the 2007 Entrada Scholars Program.

Entrada, Spanish for “gateway,” immerses high school junior and senior students of color in a college experience, the core of which is academic excellence. Entrada scholars, each of whom receives a $2,500 scholarship to attend the program, are high-achieving students nominated for the program by their pastors, guidance counselors, teachers and community leaders.

The Entrada experience 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 -- side by side in the classroom with regular Calvin summer students.

“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 Tasha Paul, the assistant director of Pre-College Programs who administers Entrada. “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 academically, but socially and spiritually as well.”

Each of the students is assigned an academic coach who also attends the class and helps out with coursework, but none of them receives any other special accommodation to achieve college-level work. Entrada students regularly perform at and sometimes above the level of the Calvin students in their classes.

Paul says the Entrada experience encourages a well-rounded approach to scholarship, emphasizing a sense of community building and leadership in the students.

So fFor the month they are here (Entrada graduation will be Friday, July 13) the juniors and seniors from schools in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin -- as well as Vancouver, British Columbia and Bogota, Columbia participate not only in their summer school class, but also in the everyday elements of college life.

Entrada Scholars live in a Calvin dorm, eat in the dining hall, study in the library, work in the computer labs and shoot hoops in the gym. They also attend area churches, participate in service projects off campus and enjoy an occasional outing to a beach or water park.

“A scholar is not just book smart," says Paul. "A scholar wants to do well in academics but understands that he or she is part of the broader community. And a scholar seeks to have impact with compassion and justice and with a sense of calling and vocation. A scholar is a leader, not necessarily an upfront leader, but a leader for whatever the circumstance requires.”

During their Entrada immersion, students form a cohesive community, says Paul.

“It’s amazing in that month how connected they become and how those connections continue on after the program is done," she says, noting that it is not unusual for Entrada alumni to communicate with each other via phone and e-mail for years after they complete the program. “By the time we get the word out for an Entrada reunion, the alumni are already picking out their roommates."

Entrada concludes each year with commencement exercises, which will take place this year at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 13 in Calvin’s Gezon Auditorium. Paul says she enjoys seeing the transformation that has occurred by the time that day comes.

“It’s interesting to see the students at orientation be anxious and nervous,” she says. They don’t know anyone and they have to say goodbye to their families. And it’s interesting to be in the same room during their graduation where they are so proud of their success during the program and crying at the thought of having to leave this newly formed family. It’s amazing to watch.”

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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