Virtual VU JAG Summer Academy promotes college success

Virtual VU JAG Summer Academy promotes college success

Vincennes University Logo

August 05, 2020

August 5, 2020

VINCENNES, Ind. – With the coronavirus pandemic impacting in-person activities on the Vincennes University campus, VU Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) College and Career Success Program Manager Shaun Brames was determined to make sure college-bound students could still take part in the annual VU JAG Summer Academy, and hence the one-week immersive college experience went virtual.

Students from across Indiana participated in the virtual VU JAG Summer Academy held July 27-31 via Zoom sessions. The Academy focused on college survival strategies, college preparation, and leadership development activities. It also showcased the outstanding opportunities available at VU.

What I liked most about the VU JAG Academy was getting to know more about people with the same goals in life of helping others. I enjoyed the warm friendly atmosphere and getting to learn more about Vincennes University,” Isabella Floyd said.

Before the event, all 27 students received a JAG Cool Box filled with fun VU items and an array of popular snacks from southern Indiana.

"I enjoyed all the fun activities as well as the valuable information that we learned from Shaun's presentations. I know that I will be using this information when I start college in a few weeks,” Megan Poe said.

Academy participants were divided into two different Zoom sessions. One group was made up of incoming college freshmen. The other group was for incoming high school seniors. 

Sessions were led by Brames from both the Vincennes main campus and the VU Jasper campus. He also streamed live tours of both campuses, while also taking questions from students as he conducted the tours.

Shaun Brames, VU JAG College Success

“The VU JAG Summer Academy is a great way for students to experience life on a college campus and to learn the expectations of being a college student,” Brames said. “We are able to show the academic and support programs available at Vincennes University. We are able to let them know that they can continue their JAG experience with the VU JAG College Success Program, too. The best thing about the VU JAG Summer Academy is just meeting new JAG students all over the state. For me, the most rewarding part is seeing JAG students from all over Indiana make lifelong friends with one another, whether they are from rural areas or cities.”

The incoming college freshmen group called the VU JAG Experience earned college credit for completing assignments and a final project during the week. They also received instruction in emotional intelligence, active reading, memory skills, note-taking strategies, maximizing campus resources, and test-taking strategies.

“I learned a lot from the JAG Academy. I am going to VU in the fall. I was able to learn a bunch of things about VU, including the support programs they offer,” Caleb Johnson said.

The future high school senior group called the VU JAG Trailblazers learned about planning and preparing for college. They learned about the many different majors and programs available at VU.

“I really enjoyed the JAG Summer Academy because I got to meet new people while learning about college at the same time,” Grace Middleton said.     

A variety of guest speakers from VU also participated in the Summer Academy including, Chuck Johnson, VU President; Christian Blome, Dean of VU Jasper campus; David Tucker, Executive Vice-President of Workforce Development and Community Services; Stan Werne, Director of Financial Aid; Karen Mundy, VU Jasper Assistant Director of Admissions; Dr. Kenneth Coleman, Director of Experience VU Program; Candace Joles, Director of COPE Program; Curt Coffman, Dean of the College of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics; Ty Freed, Dean of Technology; Cynthia Ragle, Dean of the College Social Science, Performing Arts, and Communication; and Kevin Porter of the VU Police Department. Christine Shaffer of JAG Indiana also conducted entertaining virtual activities. 

The week culminated with a JAG All-Star College Student panel which consisted of VU JAG College Success students.

They shared their college stories as well as college survival tips plus answered questions.

“It was very important to have a JAG Summer Academy this year,” Brames said. “I was bitterly disappointed not to be able to have a huge event on campus with over 200 JAG students, but I realized that we needed to make the best of the less than ideal circumstances. We simply could not just give up and say, wait until next year. I had a curriculum ready to go and plenty of students who had signed up. What we were able to do was add a little bit of normalcy to an otherwise rough year. It was good for me, and it was good for the kids to be able to learn things, talk, and to give positive affirmation to one another. This meant as much to me as it did to the students.”

The VU JAG College Success program aims to help students prepare to enter the workforce after graduating from VU. JAG College Success participants receive benefits, including academic, remediation, adult mentoring, career guidance and counseling, leadership development, service-learning projects, social activities, and emergency support services.

To get involved in the program or to learn more, contact VU JAG College and Career Success Program Manager Shaun Brames at 812-396-8925 or or visit