If you want to measure the importance of a college to its community, talk to its graduates, they are our best credentials. At State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), we can talk about our success rates and outstanding programs, but when our students and graduates do it, it becomes reality.
At SCF we get to meet students like Yesica Lopez-Cabrera and help them achieve their dreams. Yesica is a 2019 graduate of SCF and is currently in the Tampa Bay Bridge to Baccalaureate Program on our Bradenton Campus, which is preparing her to transfer to the University of South Florida (USF) to major in biomedical science. She hopes to enroll in a physician assistant program after completing her bachelor’s degree.
A first-generation college student, Yesica took advantage of the resources SCF provides to minority and economically disadvantaged students to ensure she could attend college after graduating from Palmetto High School. The guidance and mentorship she received through the SCF College Reach Out Program (CROP) set her on the path to success.
CROP is designed to increase the number of students getting a college education. Its objective is to motivate and prepare low-income students in grades 6–12 who otherwise would be unlikely to pursue a college education. Our CROP school-based programs are directed by site coordinators who serve as mentors at middle and high schools in Manatee and Sarasota counties. These programs provide students with academic enrichment activities as well as career and personal counseling.
Yesica’s CROP experience at Palmetto High School earned her a Summer Bridge scholarship at SCF in 2018. Summer Bridge helps CROP students transition to college by allowing them to take two classes during the summer after they graduate high school. Each student receives a scholarship covering tuition, books, supplies, and lunches. For Yesica, this created a smooth transition to SCF as she began to earn college credits.
She shared that, as a full-time student, SCF gave her a great foundation for a career in science. Yesica found that the small class sizes at SCF allowed for more one-on-one communication with her professors, a great benefit the college provides all its students.
SCF has participated in the state’s CROP program for 28 years and is currently supporting 140 students in area middle and high schools. In our fall 2019 term, 80 former CROP students and 53 Summer Bridge students were enrolled at SCF.
As Yesica prepares to transfer to USF, the Bridge to Baccalaureate program is providing her with the resources and tools she needs to motivate her to pursue a career in science. The Bridge to Baccalaureate program is focused on increasing the number of underrepresented minority students completing a bachelor’s degree in a science, technology, engineering and math program. Her participation led to additional in-state and national educational experiences.
Yesica is great example of how SCF can create educational opportunities that take students from middle and high school to college degrees. She understood the value of the assistance and resources that the college’s CROP, Summer Bridge and Bridge to Baccalaureate programs and how each could help her achieve her goals.
Yesica is a shining example of an SCF graduate and I have enjoyed sharing her story, but now allow her words to close this column.
“What stands out to me the most about SCF is that they want nothing but to see their students succeed,” Yesica said. “SCF feels like a home to me and I am very pleased with everything they did for me.”
Carol F. Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota.