SPANNING THE GAP - Bridge program helps high school graduates transition to college

June 21, 2022
SPANNING THE GAP - Bridge program helps high school students transition to college

High school graduates from across Wharton County Junior College's service area participated in this year's Summer Bridge Program.  Pictured lying on the floor is Juan Murillo of Van Vleck. Front row, left to right, are Natalie Garcia of El Campo, Kaitlyn Galvan of El Campo, Bethany Gomez of Wharton, Karina Ramirez of El Campo and Yolda Martinez of Rosenberg. Middle row, left to right, are WCJC's Coordinator of Vocational Support Services Rose Ochoa, Jocelyn Gonzalez of Wharton, Brenda Garcia of Blessing, WCJC's Senior Academic Advisor Catherine Shoppa, Jessica Franco of El Campo, WCJC's Student Success Assistant Linda Vacek, Cassandra Fuentes of East Bernard, Madison Breland of El Campo, Macinzie Pena of Wharton and WCJC's GPS SS Project Coordinator Sara Fira. Back row, left to right, are Kylie Kolar of Palacios, WCJC Academic Advisor Jazmin Cordova, Avery Viktorin of El Campo, Mackenzie Garza of Wharton, Emily Soto of Rosenberg and Karla Sibrian of Rosenberg.

WHARTON, TEXAS – As the first in his family to enroll in college, Juan Murillo had his fair share of anxiety thinking about the upcoming fall semester at Wharton County Junior College. The 2022 Van Vleck High School graduate just didn’t know what to expect.

“I felt like a lost duck sitting in the water waiting to get shot,” Murillo explained.

After learning about WCJC’s Pioneer Career Summer Bridge Program, Murillo decided to take the bull by the horns and signed up. Presented by the college’s Title V HSI Career and Transfer Services department, the Bridge Program offers qualified freshman a chance to network with other students, learn about college resources, visit area employers and four-year universities, develop strategies for career and educational success, learn team building and earn college credit by completing Psychology 1300.

The program is offered at no cost to participants and lasts for five weeks. Interested students must complete an application and be chosen for the program. This year’s Bridge Program began on June 6. Murillo was one of 17 area high school graduates to participate.

“I’m really enjoying it,” he said. “This is a sneak peek to what college is going to be like.”

WCJC’s Director of Academic & Career Advising Mike Adkins said the Bridge Program is designed with student success in mind.

“Our Pioneer Career Summer Bridge Program is such a great opportunity for students to hit the ground running. We focus on setting career and educational goals and making plans to reach those goals,” Adkins said. “So many students come to college because it is just the next step, in their mind, without knowing what they want to do or even why they are there. We are working to make sure that our students have meaningful reasons for being here and the necessary skills to succeed at WCJC.”

Avery Viktorin of El Campo was uneasy about making the transition from high school to college and felt the Bridge Program would help fill that gap. The 2022 El Campo High School graduate learned about the program on a campus visit her senior year.

“The program is exposing us to different options,” she said. “It’s really helped us acclimate to being at college.”

Viktorin plans on completing her basic courses at WCJC before transferring to the University of Houston in order to pursue a degree in accounting.

Blessing native Brenda Garcia is looking to obtain an associate’s degree in process technology. Like Murillo, she is a first-generation college student and felt intimidated by what she might face.

“I think for me I was really scared to come to college,” the 2022 Tidehaven High School graduate said. “The Bridge Program is definitely a good place to start.”