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Other Colleges Study Entrada
June 26, 2007

In mid-July, senior administrators from colleges and universities around the nation will visit Calvin College to learn about Calvin’s Entrada Scholars Program, a month-long college experience for minority high school students.

Eighteen administrators from 13 institutions, funded by a $25,000 Lilly Network Exchange grant, will convene at Calvin Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13 -- just in time to help Entrada celebrate its 20th birthday.

Rhae-Ann Booker“I think they will enjoy seeing Entrada in action and this firsthand experience will help them to understand the program and to enact it on their own campuses,” says Rhae Ann Booker, Calvin director of Pre-College Programs.

This year Entrada, held from Sunday, June 17 through Friday, July 13, has drawn a record number of 76 scholars from all over the country. Spanish for “entrance” or “gateway,” Entrada immerses high school junior and senior students of color in a college experience whose core is academic excellence. They take a college class, live in the residence halls, eat in the dining halls, study in the library, attend workshops, shoot hoops in the gym, perform service projects and enjoy the occasional outing.

The group visiting Entrada from July 9-13 will also be invited to the Entrada 20th birthday celebration at 3:30 p.m on Wednesday, July 11 on the Commons Lawn.

“A lot has transpired in 20 years,” says Rhae-Ann Booker. “Entrada began as a six-week simulated college experience for 10 to 15 students and has evolved to a four-week authentic college experience. This year, we not only had record enrollment, we had a record number of applicants. We have a lot to celebrate.”

Tasha Paul says the birthday celebration will be modest -- cake and punch with a brief program -- but adds that it is important to pause to mark two decades of the program.

"The theme of the celebration," she says "is "20 years of Entrada: We've come this far by faith."

The program for the celebration will consist of some welcoming remarks, history of the program, a reflection by a student who participated in the early years of Entrada, some type of presentation by the current scholars and a song.

Ninety-six percent of Entrada scholars graduate from high school and go on to college. Of the 552 students who have completed Entrada since 1991, 249 of them have enrolled at Calvin.

“It’s a life-changing time,” says assistant director of Pre-College Programs Tasha Paul, who coordinates Entrada.

The administrators are coming to Calvin from Bethel University, Concordia University at Austin, Dordt College, Fairfield University, Geneva College, Greenville College, Northwestern College, Pepperdine University, St. Mary's College, Westmont College, Wheaton College and Wittenberg University.

They will learn about Entrada by participating in it. They will attend classes with the students, sit in on academic coaching sessions and attend the Entrada graduation.

They will also hear Dr. Edward St. John speak on “College Access and Social Justice: Reconciling Faith Traditions and Diversity.” St. John, the Algo D. Henderson Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan, is well-known as an expert on equal educational opportunity in k-12 and higher education.

Another highlight of the trip, Booker said, will be the Hawaiian-themed dinner cruise on Lake Michigan that takes place later in the evening on July 11. Sailing with the administrators aboard the Holland Princess from Holland, Michigan will be Entrada staff, alumni and parents as well as Calvin staff and faculty who intersect with the program. “It should be a great night of fellowship,” Booker said.

Far from being protective of the “secrets” of the Entrada model, Booker is eager to share the educational wealth and equally eager to see similar programs succeed at other colleges and universities.

“Historically, in Pre-college Programs, we have created opportunities for sharing our expertise with others, including our successes and failures. We are committed to the work of achieving college access goals for all people,” she says. “There are enough needs, students and opportunities for all colleges and universities to do their part.”

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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