May 22, 2003
Is an Unprecedented Immersion in Learning
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- To a child or teenager, the phrase "summer school" is likely to conjure images of confinement: a stuffy classroom, remedial coursework, longing looks out the window, a slow-moving clock.
To a woman seeking a college education, the picture can be just the opposite.
"For the majority of our students, coming to Smith is their first experience with a non-commuter campus, a residential college, a place where you both live and learn," explains Holly Davis.
"These are often wives, mothers and caretakers, sometimes working several jobs, fitting in their educations around the edges. The idea that someone would make their meals for them and provide their rooms, all so that they can have the time and space to study and develop their minds, is tremendously liberating. For the most part, it's unprecedented in their lives."
As director of Smith's Community College Connections (CCC) program, now in its 14th year, Davis is preparing to welcome 19 talented and highly motivated community college women to the historic campus beginning May 30. The students, ranging in age from 18 to 53, will spend the month of June taking two intensive courses, living and eating together in a Smith residence, taking advantage of the campus's libraries, athletics facilities and cultural resources and, overall, contemplating whether a four-year, residential college might be right for them.
CCC students come from five institutions in five states. This year, Smith will host nine students from Capital Community College (Hartford, Conn.); five from Miami-Dade Community College (Miami, Fla.); two from Sitting Bull College (Fort Yates, N.D.); two from Springfield Technical Community College (Springfield, Mass.) and one from the Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, N.M.).
The students represent a wide range of cultural diversity. The group includes African Americans, Native Americans and Caucasians, with nationalities including Nicaraguan, Vietnamese, Jamaican, Peruvian and Israeli. There is no charge to participants for classes, food or lodging; Smith supports the program through foundation grants and gifts from individuals.
A key element of the program is that courses are interdisciplinary and are team-taught by faculty members from Smith and the participating community colleges. This year, students will take "Brain, Body and Mind: Early Explorations," taught by Smith biologist Margaret Anderson and Capital Community College sociologist Jose Ricardo Rivera. Their second course is "The Cultural Body: Experience, Performance and Representation," taught by Smith dance professor Augusto Soledade and Capital Community College English professor Krystyna Zamorska. Upon completion of the courses, the students receive six Smith credits that also count toward their associate's degree.
Since CCC's inception, 252 students have attended and 246 have successfully completed the program. During this period, approximately 80 percent of the students have eventually gone on to a four-year college or university, a figure significantly higher than for the general population of community colleges. Twenty-four students have enrolled at Smith. Seventeen of these, including several honors students, have graduated, and about half of them have gone on to attend law, medical or graduate schools.
More information about Community College Connections is available at www.smith.edu/ccc.
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 55 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the country.