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Caldwell, N.J., – August 7, 2014 – Fifty-three outstanding rising high school seniors had the opportunity to  experience university life at an intensive science math  summer college program at Caldwell University.  The students were selected for the three week program from a pool of highly competitive applicants, where one of the requirements was that they be the first generation in their family to attend a college or university.

“The students came to us enthusiastic and open to the opportunities that the program offered,” said Professor Brenda Peterson, program director and assistant director of nursing at Caldwell.  “We were excited to see what they would learn and how they would apply their knowledge.”

“It was great first college experience,” said Lourdes Abreu, a student at Passaic County Technical Institute.

Every part of the program was “amazing” and “this school is amazing,” said Adriana Rodas, from Alexandria Hamilton Preparatory in Elizabeth.

Among their many projects, they researched super foods, sustainable farming, water quality and planet environmental health in the labs, outside on campus or on various field trips.   Adriana and Lourdes agreed that they “loved” the ecology class.

They used some of the most up to date technology including 3D design and the university’s Aquos interactive digital boards, watched a real time surgery via “Live From Surgery” at the interactive theater at Liberty Science Center, studied the physics of motionin preparation for a field trip to the Jackals baseball game, and visited Duke Farms to learn about sustainable technology.

Dr.  George Jenkins, assistant professor of dentistry at Columbia University, was a guest speaker who shared his story of growing up in Newark, New Jersey and how he and his two friends made a friendship pact to beat the odds and succeed in life. Dr. Jenkins and his friends formed the well-known group “The Three Doctors” where they speak to young people from tough backgrounds and encourage them to pursue their dreams and goals.

In the mornings, the students had the chance to learn about college readiness at classes on topics such as SAT preparation   and career services.

But perhaps one of the best aspects was the people they met and the relationships they formed.  It was great to meet students from other schools in New Jersey and they had “amazing teachers,” said Adriana.  The resident assistants were “fantastic,” said Abreu. “They knew we had a lot to do,” but still tried to build in fun time.

The students showcased their final projects at a celebration Aug. 1 with an audience of 200 including teachers, principals, area legislators and family members. They “exceeded all expectations” in presenting “a research-driven technologically-based scientific presentation,” said Professor Peterson.

Participants  have the opportunity to earn three college credits, if the institution they choose to attend accepts those credits. This was the fourth year Caldwell University offered this program, which was made possible by a U.S. Department of Education College Access Challenge Grant through the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education.