This summer, more than 100 high school students from all over the world will enroll in the Summer Scholars Program at the University of Miami to get a head start on their college experiences. UM students will lead and mentor the high schoolers by working as Community Assistants (CA). CAs are in charge of supervising the students for the duration of the program, showing them what university life is like and taking them to different areas within Miami.
The program is offered by the University of Miami’s Division of Continuing Education and International Education as a three-week course in the summer. Based on their academic interests, aspiring students can experience college life and earn six college credits.
Program Director Krista Lyons explained how high school students benefit from the experience in a number of ways, mainly by gaining insight they would otherwise have to spend time learning freshman year.
“The whole concept is to try college, to test-drive their academic interest,” Lyons said. “We want them to see what it is like to live away from home and have a roommate as many students have never had a roommate before, which is part of the college experience and teaches them to share.”
Erik Hess, a sophomore studying sports administration, was involved in the Summer Scholars Program before his senior year of high school and has served as a CA since summer 2015.
“Meeting new kids and showing them how the university is, you are the first experience of what UM is. It’s like being a role model for them,” Hess said. “Some of the students I had [mentored] applied to UM after taking this program. It would be great to see them on campus next year.”
Hess is originally from London, and participating in the program confirmed his decision to attend UM.
“Once I met the professors and students here, this felt like home,” Hess said. “During my time, we visited all the sports stadiums in Miami. It was cool to see the different venues and taught us a lot.”
The program offers 13 different academic focuses to choose from, and each specialization consists of two three-credit courses. Courses include health and medicine, law, filmmaking, sports administration and marine science.
All classes are taught on the Coral Gables campus except those for health and medicine, for which CAs will chaperone students to the Miller School of Medicine campus.
The marine science program is popular among students, according to Lyons, who said participants get to tag sharks with tracking technology, swim with dolphins and experience an overnight stay in Key Largo. The marine science program is held on the Coral Gables campus, but students visit the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
Junior Aalekhya Reddam, a resident assistant in Stanford Residential College and recent Iron Arrow Honor Society inductee, attended the marine science program when she was a high school junior in Singapore. Experiencing the program helped cement her decision to attend UM.
“University of Miami is one of the best marine schools in the nation. I love scuba diving, but I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy marine science, and this program helped me test it out, and doing it made me discover I love studying it,” Reddam said.
Reddam is strongly considering becoming a CA in the program that taught her so much. She said she first studied marine science during her time in the summer program at UM because it was not an available major in Singapore.
Reddam was also able to experience American society in a tangible way.
“This gave me a taste of the American culture,” Reddam said. “I had Chipotle for the first time, I went to Best Buy, saw the Fourth of July fireworks … so it was a taste of Miami that I got.”
The deadline to apply to be a CA is March 15. Participants will earn $1,400 total for the three weeks and will be provided with housing in the freshman dormitories along with access to the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center. Interested students can apply at: miami.edu/dcie/index.php/ssp/community_assistants/.
High school students need above a 3.0 GPA in high school to apply to the program. The price to attend the Summer Scholars Program is $7,495. Interested students can apply at: miami.edu/dcie/index.php/ssp.