VU Summer Bridge Program helps new students transition to campus life

VU Summer Bridge Program helps new students transition to campus life

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May 03, 2021

May 3, 2021

VINCENNES, Ind. – Kurt Pangborn is an author, motivational speaker, and collegiate athletic department employee. He credits a great deal of his success to Vincennes University’s Summer Bridge Program.

The Summer Bridge Program offers incoming and freshman level students a five-week summer college orientation experience and the chance to get a head start on their academic goals.

In the summer of 2007, Pangborn was preparing to begin his college experience and fearing the unknown. Initially, he was not thrilled about giving up several weeks of his summer to participate in the Summer Bridge Program. Ultimately, he considers the choice to attend Summer Bridge a wise one.

Kurt Pangborn (center)

"Summer Bridge acted as a springboard to academics and college life in general, and that springboard lifted me to future success," he said. "I felt like day one of the actual fall academic calendar, that I was already a step ahead of 90 percent of the people on campus and the freshmen class."

VU helps students adapt to college life and readies them for their first semester through this impactful summer program. In previous years, students enjoyed a five-week residential experience.

The Summer Bridge Program is continuing its history of offering rich experiences, providing vital learning opportunities, and arming students with the confidence to become successful college students with a virtual event in 2021. VU’s Virtual Summer Bridge Program is June 30-Aug. 5, 2021.

Penny Kirk

"Summer Bridge allows students to attend college for a short time and step into the college experience gradually before jumping into the fall semester," VU Summer Bridge Program Director and Assistant Professor Penny Kirk. "It is definitely a worthwhile experience and investment."

Students will take a 3-credit hour Study Skills course and participate in interactive workshops with various staff around campus and will learn about the Career Center, Counseling Center, Diverse Abilities & Accommodations, Financial Aid, Tutoring, and more. They will also have the opportunity to build friendships and social relationships during fun virtual game nights and exciting activities. Students will also engage with Kirk in mentoring sessions focusing on academics, career paths, self-advocacy, challenges, and other topics. 

"Making the transition from high school to college is a little bit daunting,” Pangborn said. "Knowing each student desires to be successful, joining the Summer Bridge program is one thing they can control. It is a decision that they can make on their behalf that’s going to help ensure they can have success."

TJ Haskett

Like Pangborn, TJ Haskett was feeling apprehensive as he was getting ready to begin his college journey. He found Summer Bridge to be the perfect solution and everything about it set him up for success. 

"Going off to college was a little overwhelming, but the Summer Bridge helped me with the transition by engaging me in fun activities that helped me get to know the campus, other students, and staff on campus," Haskett said. "Summer Bridge also enabled me to take classes that meet the degree requirement, and they gave me some great tips on how to get help. It helped me prepare for college life and to be on my own."

Haskett graduated in 2019 from VU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Technology with an Advanced Manufacturing concentration. He also earned a pair of associate degrees from VU in Precision Manufacturing Technology and Advanced CNC Machining and Programming Technology in addition to completing a Metalworking Technology Certificate in 2017. The Indianapolis native currently works for a manufacturing company that produces custom tooling, precision machining, and military range training products. 

"Summer Bridge is a great program for incoming freshmen, and I would strongly encourage students to participate because it is a lot of fun," Haskett said. "The Summer Bridge program gave me the confidence I needed to succeed and supported me in my endeavors."

Pangborn graduated from VU in 2009 with an associate degree in Sports Management. He transferred to Indiana University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Recreational Sports Management. He earned a master’s degree in Sports Management and Administration. He currently works as assistant director of athletic tours and ticket operations at Indiana University Athletics.

Developing important friendships was one of the many rewarding benefits of Pangborn’s Summer Bridge experience. 

"I built relationships with people in the program and that continued through my years at Vincennes, and beyond," he said. "Those relationships really help as you partner together on this new journey called college. At the arrival of the fall semester, you have friends for dinner and studies."

To learn more about the Summer Bridge Program and to register, explore