While summer is a time for relaxing with friends and family as well as laying the necessary and important groundwork for the academic year that follows, it also provides our institution a wonderful opportunity for community outreach.
Thanks to the dedication of our legacy institutions, Georgia Regents University has several longstanding and respected summer programs that have made our school a destination of choice for students at all levels.
For over a decade, area parents have come to rely on Kids University to provide quality programming for students in elementary and middle school. This year, we’ve added a STEM-U program for grades 6-8, and it’s proved so popular we’re considering adding a couple of extra weeks. These programs average about 95 kids a week, and we’ve found many of these students end up going all the way through the pipeline, starting as students, becoming counselors in training, then student assistants, and finally full-fledged students at GRU.
GRU also hosts music conservatory programs and athletic camps, which continue to expose area students to the varied opportunities available at our institution while at the same time helping them follow their passions and develop as individuals.
On the Health Sciences Campus, a summer enrichment program known as SEEP (Student Educational Enrichment Program) has been introducing students to health sciences research since 1970. One of the nation’s oldest pipeline programs, it provided opportunities for underserved communities long before most schools were looking in that direction, and they proudly continue that tradition. This year, 17 pre-college students and 34 college students are participating in the seven-week program, receiving college credit for their time. Even more impressive than the program’s visionary nature is its success. Eighty percent of SEEP students go into health profession programs, with many matriculating here to GRU.
What better endorsement can you find than that, both for the quality of the summer programs as well as the desirability of our university? Both are obviously highly valued by the community.
Then there is the Student Training and Research (STAR) program which has been attracting students to our graduate programs for almost a decade. Whereas SEEP is really an educational enrichment opportunity to try to orient and bolster students’ understanding of the educational aspects of a health sciences career and give them a leg up in terms of medical terminology and practices, the nine-week STAR program allows students already in college to test the waters of biomedical research in a true research environment. And don’t think we’ve forgotten research opportunities for our own undergraduates, because for the last three years, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS) Summer Scholar’s program has been giving GRU undergraduates an opportunity to get real-world research experience in a variety of different fields.
While these programs have an established and well-earned track record of success, our new summer pre-collegiate academies have really raised the bar in terms of providing targeted programming to a select group of high school students. The Health Sciences Summer Academy and the Cyber Sciences Summer Academy have brought in diverse students from around the nation for an unparalleled residential academic experience.
The quality and timely nature of these camps has turned the spotlight on GRU at a time when cyber matters in particular have been making headlines around the world. Last Thursday, we were honored to have National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers visit our cyber students and give the address for our two academies’ first graduating class, an outstanding indication of our position as an emerging leader in cyber education.
A second week of these academies, held this week, is allowing us to reach even more of these eager students, many of whom will go on to do great things in these important fields. Hopefully, the experience will convince the majority of those to choose GRU to further their education.
While the summer education we’re providing is a part of our mission, it’s certainly true that it allows us an excellent opportunity for self-promotion and recruitment. Though we’re not obnoxious about it, we definitely want to make sure these students go home with some GRU swag. It’s not a hard sell, but simply an opportunity to showcase what we are and drive home the message that GRU would be a great place for them to further their education.
As our new residence halls quickly become a reality, our ability to offer these types of summer programs will only increase. Very typically, schools with residence halls use the summer months in exactly the way we’re doing now – to establish goodwill and position themselves as academic leaders. It’s something our legacy institutions have been doing for years and GRU is proud to call one of our best traditions.