Seventy-one Entrada Scholars from the United States and China have come to Calvin for a month-long summer course.
It was Tuesday afternoon, and the high school students had been on campus since Sunday. A spontaneous game of ninja tag broke out in Johnny’s Café where faculty and staff were mingling with the newcomers.
71 high school students from the United States and China have come to Calvin College for the 2011 Entrada Scholars Program. Entrada is a merit-based grant program that brings exceptional ethnic minority high school students to Calvin for a month-long summer course. Those participants who enroll at Calvin are eligible for a yearly college scholarship of $4,000.
Tasha Paul-Cruz, associate director of pre-college programs, the office in charge of Entrada, surveyed this year’s crop of scholars. “It’s nice to get them off of the paper,” she said.
A taste of the college life
Tanya Coleman learned about Entrada at her high school, North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter School in Chicago. Calvin admissions representatives had visited North Lawndale and explained the program: “I decided to take them up on that,” she said.
A junior, Coleman is heading into early childhood education but hasn’t settled on a college. While here, she will take English 205 with Professor Gerard Fondse. The class began Thursday, June 23 and runs through July 15.
Ahmad Johnson came to Calvin from North County Technical High School in St. Louis. “Yeah, eight hours,” he said of the trip. Johnson discovered Calvin at a college fair. “There were about 70 Christian colleges, and I narrowed it down to this,” he said. “I’ll be going here in the fall.”
Like Coleman, Johnson is also taking English 205. The class had met Fondse earlier that day. “He seems like a really mellow guy,” Johnson said, “a really cool guy to talk to and learn from. And he’s funny, which I think will liven up the class.”
This summer marks Fondse’s fifth class with Entrada, a program he believes is one of the most important at Calvin. The course, “Understanding Literature,” fulfills a core requirement at Calvin and is viewed by some as a final box to check on their transcripts. Not so with the Entrada students, Fondse said, who approach the texts with verve and imagination.
“The caliber of Entrada students is incredible,” Fondse said. “They are engaged. They are curious. They recognize what an opportunity this is for them to … embrace a college experience. I am amazed by the maturity of the Entrada students, the intellectual power.”
A diverse community
“It’s a competitive application process,” Paul-Cruz explained. Academic excellence is a primary criterion for admission into the program, but not the only one. “It’s a lot of different things that we look at,” she said. “We want students strong in many different areas. Some are strong in leadership, some in building community.”
One of Entrada’s primary objectives is to foster a diverse community. “We try to make sure we have diversity in many, many different ways—geographic, religious, racial, ethnic, private school versus public school—everything.”
Surrounded by the host of exuberant scholars, Paul-Cruz admitted, “I’m already sad about the graduation.”