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JumpStart means a great leap for new students

September 2, 2009
By Rhea Kennedy
Arrow Buff

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Students in this year’s JumpStart program found themselves a step ahead as the fall semester began. The 68 entering first-year students in the New Signers and Academic Success tracks of the program had already learned their way around campus and how to navigate through Washington, D.C. They had also taken part in educational activities centered on the core learning outcomes that will drive every class.

At the conclusion of the four-week program, coordinated by First Year Experience faculty and staff, the students had become familiar with the Gallaudet undergraduate student learning outcomes (SLOs): Language and communication, critical thinking, identity and culture, knowledge and inquiry, and ethics and social responsibility.

“These learning outcomes not only make activities more engaging, but they make a Gallaudet education  immediately applicable to challenges beyond college,” said Associate Provost Catherine Andersen, who has presented and written extensively about student success and retention. “This is a critical aspect of the ‘new Gallaudet’ and our competitive academic programs.”

JumpStart Academic Success track programming has always integrated writing and math skills to introduce students to college-level courses. Now, these principles have found their way into everyday activities, from academic exercises to outings in the city. A trip to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, for example, not only called on students to find math in paintings and write about the artists’ use of mood or imagery, but they also applied critical thinking skills to a gallery talk and considered the identity and cultural backgrounds of artists.

“You will have a head start this fall,” said JumpStart co-coordinator Jerri Lyn Dorminy to the participants during the closing event on August 20. “This will give you a strong foundation that you can build upon.”

President Davila also addressed the students, urging them to recognize their advantages, persevere through challenges, and continue toward the ultimate goal of a college diploma. “That degree is your passport to a good life,” Davila said, adding that he would do everything in his power to support the participants for the remainder of his tenure at Gallaudet.

Also there to support the students are peer counselors for the program, some of whom graduated from JumpStart just a year ago, and current students and recent graduates who served as supplementary instruction leaders.

These allies and advocates, Dorminy and co-coordinator Darian Burwell told the new students, will be there as they turn their head start into a great leap toward the future.

2 September 2009
By Rhea Kennedy

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Rhea Kennedy

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