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News & Stories: 2007-08

Entrada begins June 15
May 27, 2008

On Sunday, June 15, 64 students from around the nation will move into the Boer-Bennink residence hall at Calvin College, their temporary summer home as members of the 2008 class of the Entrada Scholars Program. Those students will reside at Boer-Bennink until the Entrada graduation, which takes place at 11 a.m. Friday, July 11, 2008 in the college’s Gezon Auditorium.

Entrada studentsIn between, promises associate director of pre-college programs Tasha Paul, the scholars will learn a lot and have a lot of fun: "Entrada is a distinctive experience,” said Paul. “It is a quality, faith-based program.

”Entrada, Spanish for “gateway,” immerses high school juniors and seniors of color in a total college experience. The Entrada scholars—who this year hail from Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, South Dakota, California, Ohio, Washington D.C., Oregon, Illinois, New York, Missouri, Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois, Ontario, Canada and Guam—are high-achieving students nominated for the program by their pastors, guidance counselors, teachers and community leaders. Each Entrada scholar receives a $4000 scholarship to attend the program.

The core of the Entrada program is academic excellence, said Paul, and the program is a demanding one: "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.”

So rigorous is the Entrada selection process, Paul emphasized, that this year’s 64 scholars were selected from an applicant pool of 149. “We’re sorry that we had to say, ‘No,’ to so many great, great students, but we’re excited  about the interest in the program and the demand for the program,” she said.

Entrada scholars enroll in a Calvin summer class of their choice: “Biological Science”; “Oral Rhetoric”; "Communication and Culture”; “Ancient Mythology”; “Understanding Literature”;“Introduction to Psychology”; "History of the West/World II” and “Fundamental Questions in Philosophy.”

Associate Director of Pre-College Programs Tasha Paul"In the eyes of their professors, they are college students,” said Paul. “They are given no special accommodation.” The Entrada program does supply each student with an academic coach, she said, who uses the content of the chosen course to teach the scholars how to read college-level materials, interact in the classroom and prepare for tests.

When not attending class and studying, the Entrada scholars do the things normal college students do: eat in the dining hall, study in the library, work in the computer labs and shoot hoops in the gym. And when the homework is completed, they sing karaoke, play Frisbee golf, perform on variety night, learn to salsa dance and enjoy an occasional outing to the beach or an amusement park.

The Entrada staff also provides plenty of spiritual support, hosting regular devotions and taking the scholars to churches in the community on Sunday.

The scholars tend to stay on the academic track long after their Calvin experience, said Paul. Ninety-six percent of Entrada scholars graduate from high school and go on to college. And a good number of them choose Calvin as that college, she added. In the fall of 2007, Entrada graduates made up 51 percent of the total number of African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American (AHANA) Calvin students who were enrolled for the first time in any institution. (The $4,000 scholarship is renewable for four years if the scholar does choose to attend Calvin.)

In the more than 20 years of its existence, the Entrada Scholars Program has become a model for other institutions. Last year, through a $25, 000 Lilly Network Exchange grant, administrators from 13 peer colleges and universities came to Calvin to study Entrada firsthand.

Entrada Scholars, said Paul, form friendships that last: “It’s amazing, the bond that forms among these students from the opening day to graduation.”

The Entrada experience, she added, forms the scholars in ways that are hard to quantify: “They gain college credit, of course, but it’s so much more than that,” said Paul. “They gain a sense of community. They get an idea of what higher education is. They experience spiritual growth and a sense of what God’s plan for them might be. This experience started for them at home,” she said, “and we’re just a step along the path.” 

~By Myrna Anderson, Communications and Marketing


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