Livingstone College

Take it to the Bridge

Students earn second chances at Livingstone
For a contingent of students at Livingstone College, the next six weeks will not be a walk in the park, but more like basic training to prepare them for all aspects of college life.
“This is boot camp. I hope you survive,” Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins, Sr. told parents and students gathered inside Trent Gym on Saturday morning.
“We believe in you. You may not have done as well as you could have in high school or you might not have been able to get into another school, but you can get life out of a stone – at Livingstone,” he said.
The students are part of one of Livingstone College’s hallmark initiatives called the Bridge Program, which was started by Jenkins when he became president in 2006.
It gives students with academic deficiencies a second chance at getting into college. If these students commit to and complete the six-week intensive program, which operates under a boot-camp model, they will be admitted into Livingstone in the fall as provisional students and receive a stipend toward tuition.
The Bridge Program is like getting your record wiped clean, he told the students. “It’s like starting over­ – being reborn.”
Students follow a rigorous daily schedule including a 6 a.m. workout and morning devotion, followed by classes in math, reading and writing from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; academic enrichment sessions from 3-5 p.m.; and a range of fun and diverse evening and weekend activities.
“The number one destroyer of college education is freedom,” said Sylvester Kyles, Bridge Program director. “When students have a choice to get up for an 8 o’clock class or not, they are not getting up.”
But when students come to the Bridge Program and have to get up at 6 a.m., and then later get an 8 o’clock class when they are enrolled, they have actually slept in, he said. “It’s psychological. What we’re trying to change is attitude and behavior.”
There is a heavy emphasis on attitude and behavior, as well as teaching etiquette to students. Real Talk sessions held on weekends include conversations based on specific episodes of the former TV show, “A Different World,” and students hear from motivational speakers throughout the summer.
There is a talent showcase at the end of the program, where a Mr. and Mrs. Bridge are crowned.
Jenkins reinforced the rules of the program including the dress code, language and attendance.
Parents also signed contracts requiring them not to visit their children during the duration of Bridge – holidays and birthdays included.
Dr. Faleese Moore Jenkins, the First Lady of Livingstone College, encouraged parents to be strong. “All the things you taught your child will show up. Trust us, we do a good job at what we do.”
“Education is the surest vehicle for upward mobility in the world. It’s better than winning the lottery,” Jenkins told the audience.
“I know you have the capability, all you need is a second chance and at Livingstone, we give you that chance. This is the first day of the rest of your life. If you do well, they won’t talk about who you were in high school, but who you were at Livingstone,” he said in giving examples of Bridge students who have done exceptionally well post Livingstone.
“You say you want a college education, you say you want a second chance,” Jenkins said. “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. Guess what? You’ve got it.”
For more information about the Bridge Program, call Sylvester Kyles at (704) 216-6874.

Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins Sr. addresses the incoming Bridge students on June 24 inside Trent Gym on campus.

Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy Jenkins, Sr. addresses the incoming Bridge students on June 24 inside Trent Gym on campus.

Livingstone College First Lady Dr. Faleese Moore Jenkins speaks candidly with parents.

Livingstone College First Lady Dr. Faleese Moore Jenkins speaks candidly with parents.

Tony Baldwin, admissions director, goes over guidelines of the Bridge program.

Tony Baldwin, associate vice president for the operations of students affairs/enrollment management, goes over guidelines of the Bridge program.

Bridge Program assistant Cherisse Hughes, right, presents a Livingstone College bag filled with goodies to each student upon completing registration.

Bridge Program assistant Cherisse Hughes, right, presents a Livingstone College bag filled with goodies to each student upon completing registration.

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