Among the Class of 2019's 395 graduates is the first cohort from the Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program (S3P). The program, originally conceived by students who saw a need for it, is designed to support students who have an interest in STEM fields and are the first in their family to attend college, come from a low-income background, or belong to a traditionally underrepresented group.
"S3P gives students who are from under-resourced backgrounds, or who have few role models who look like them, a longer 'on-ramp' before their first year, so that they are acculturated to what Swarthmore will be like and so that they have already established friendships with a small group of classmates," says program director and Isaac H. Clothier Jr. Professor of Biology Amy Cheng Vollmer. "They still struggle, as do all entering students, but feel supported and know and use resources that are readily available."
"I am still close with the student mentors and professors who worked with us that summer," says cohort member and Nashville, Tenn., native Nhung Hoang '19, who will pursue a Ph.D in computer science after graduation. "Whenever I need academic advice or support, I know that I can come to them. This wonderful support system has helped me believe that I can graduate with a college degree."
Also central to this support system are the other members of the cohort, who are the first fellow Swarthmore students that S3P members get to know on campus.
"Our cohort formed a family during the program, and even when we don't see each other for a long time, we still have a shared experience that connects us," says Linda Vu '19, an honors biology major from Falls Church, Va., who will next pursue a Ph.D in biology. "I cannot overstate the importance of having true, supportive friends in navigating and surviving Swarthmore. These are the people who will make the best days memorable and the worst days bearable."
To learn about Swarthmore’s commitment to access and inclusion, visit lifechanging.swarthmore.edu.