NERDS program stresses leadership

Current juniors and seniors in high school will be given the opportunity to participate in the NERDS program this summer.

In previous years, Baker had a similar program called Summer Bridge. The NERDS program is based heavily on Summer Bridge, but it emphasizes leadership skills and includes a week at an Outward Bound school in Colorado.

Quest Program Chair Carrie Coward Bucher is in charge of the NERDS program and said it has a different approach and is focusing more on grit and leadership.

“We are trying to highlight the notion that we are lifelong learners,” she said. “We are interested in things no matter where in the world we are.”

The students will have a choice of two classes, Human Genetics and Digital Media, which will each earn the students three college credits. The Human Genetics class will be taught by Associate Professor of Biology Erin Morris. The Digital Media class will be taught by Associate Professor of Mass Media Dave Bostwick.

Morris said you do not have to be committed to or even considering Baker to participate in the program.

“It’s not ‘come to Baker and prepare to be at Baker,’ it’s ‘come to Baker and prepare to be a leader,’” Morris said. “The best thing about this opportunity is the challenge of a college course that’s going to prepare them to be successful in college before they get to college.”

Robyn Long, assistant professor of psychology, worked with the previous Summer Bridge program and said the most important aspect of these programs is to give students the an opportunity to spend time in a college environment.

“If you don’t have anyone around you whose been to college, you don’t have all that scaffolding and structure,” Long said. “So I think the credit is a really valuable piece, but I think it’s about the bridging transition period that is so valuable.”

The program will last one month, from June 1 to July 1.

Bucher said the students will be living in the New Living Center and attending class in Baldwin City for 10 days before leaving for Colorado, where they will stay for a week. Upon returning, they will spend the remaining time back in Baldwin City.

Bucher said the Colorado Outward Bound school is nationally recognized will enrich the student’s ability to be self-reliant. The students will be participating in nature-based activities such as hiking and rafting, as well as camping five nights.

“I see so many smart, good and intelligent students who don’t see how smart, good and intelligent they are,” Bucher said. “I want to encourage young people to have the confidence in themselves to know the fullness of their awesomeness and really embrace it and chase it.”

Morris said this experience will prepare them for the academic rigor of college but develop leadership skills they can utilize outside of the classroom.

“Student life is more than just academics, and learning how to use those skills that are applicable in both extracurricular activities and in the classroom will be extremely helpful,” Morris said.