Stroud Scholars Preview Life at CC During Summer Experience

More than 60 students from 18 Pikes Peak region high schools are getting a taste of life on the CC campus during the Stroud Scholars summer experience, which began July 11 and runs through July 29.

The Stroud Scholars program honors the legacy of siblings Kelley Dolphus Stroud '31 and Effie Stroud Frazier '31, two of the earliest African American students to graduate from CC. As part of the college’s antiracism commitment and access and affordability focus, the program prepares talented local high schoolers for selective college environments through academic preparation, mentorship, and guidance navigating the college admissions process — culminating in admission to CC. 

To be accepted into the program, students must be intellectually curious and growth-minded, with the potential to thrive in rigorous academic settings if given the opportunity. Students may be the first in their families to graduate from college, and many come from a low-income family, self-identify as students of color or another socially marginalized identity, or attend an under-resourced high school.

Stroud Scholars take part in a three-week residential experience for three consecutive summers, starting after their first year of high school. Living on the CC campus on weekdays, they take immersive writing and quantitative reasoning courses co-taught by CC faculty and local high school teachers. This year, six of the 12 Stroud instructors are CC alumni.

Dr. Lori Driscoll ’94, associate chair of neuroscience and psychology at CC, has been an instructor with the program since its inaugural year. A graduate of an under-resourced high school in rural Colorado, she had opportunity to attend CC as a Boettcher Scholar. Today, she enjoys supporting students through some of the same challenges she faced as she adjusted to the college environment.    

“I think that by my presence, I send a message to them that they belong,” Driscoll said. “What I provide for them is an open door for social and emotional connection — which everybody needs, but especially at that age. I think the instruction is secondary, actually, to the presence. The instruction helps them understand what it's going to look like in college, and that alleviates some of the stress. It's like ‘Okay, I have my foot down. Now, all I have to do is keep walking.’”

In addition to the core academic programming, students also choose from various adjunct courses to learn new skills and discover their interests — including CPR and first aid, computer science, urban agriculture, health and wellness, pottery, and a leadership class called Changemaker 101.

On the weekends, participants may go home or stay on campus, where they enjoy guided activities like rock climbing, bike riding, a wellness expo, and a field-day-style sports competition.

Students also spend time learning how to navigate the college admissions and financial aid processes — and as they progress through the program, they build a foundation to thrive in college as they hone their aspirations and connect with supportive peers and mentors.

“My family immigrated here, and I would be the first to graduate from college. So, I have always had that dream to go to college and graduate and make my family proud,” said Kennia Vidal, a rising senior from Mitchell High School in Colorado Springs. “The Stroud Scholars program helps you see what the next steps are. My school doesn’t offer much of that, so this program really helps me have that college insight.”

The first summer session, in 2020, was held virtually in a condensed timeframe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the residential experience took place in-person for the first time, and in 2022, the program welcomed three cohorts of students (rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors) to campus.

Knowledge and skills gained during the summer experience are then supported and furthered through a series of academic-year programs.

AliciaRose Martinez, CC’s summer programs and college access specialist, said the program is thriving thanks to the successful collaboration of partners across the college and the wider Colorado Springs community.

"We partner with so many different parts of campus, offices and individuals who are all kind of building the Stroud Scholars program in different ways and helping to support it,” Martinez said. “We partner and work closely with school districts across the Pikes Peak region, different nonprofit organizations, in terms of how we recruit and the people we bring in to work with the students. It's just amazing to me.”

Students who successfully complete the program gain admission to CC with a financial aid package that enables them to attend — but going to CC is not a requirement. Rather, the goal is for participants to feel prepared to thrive at a selective college or university, so they can intentionally choose the path that best fits their goals.

Many students, however, feel connected to CC after experiencing the classroom environment and building relationships at the college for the last three years.

“I want to go somewhere that’s super inclusive, but I also just like CC as a college and the way that they teach. It’s a lot more one-on-one, and classes are smaller,” said Jordan Barker, a rising senior at Fountain-Ft. Carson High School in Fountain, Colorado. “And getting to experience the community here has been so eye-opening. It makes me want to participate more in my community — to stay here and expand my horizons here, because this is my home.”

Jim Burke, director of the Summer Session, said watching the Stroud Scholars come into their own and start viewing themselves as changemakers is especially rewarding.

“I get excited when they talk about, ‘When I come to CC,’ like they're already thinking about the space they'll take up at the campus,” Burke said. “And I’m thinking, ‘That's great! I wanted you to feel like this was a place you could not only get into, but that you would have an impact on.’ And they are.”

To learn more about the Stroud Scholars, or to support the program financially, visit www.coloradocollege.edu/stroudscholars.

Report an issue - Last updated: 07/27/2022